Inclusion in play: a fundamental right for children

Friday 9 July 2021

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“Play is the work of childhood” stated Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist and epistemologist. He put into a short phrase what is now widely acknowledged: play is as fundamental for childhood as work is for adulthood. Fundamental to grow, to develop new competences, to develop the own personality and to socialise with others.

The recognition of play as essential part of children’s life is, among others, reflected in international treaties such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Children: “Every child has the right to play” (Art. 31). Every child means that truly all children, regardless of their physical and psychological condition, have this right. In other words: inclusion has to be ensured, and all children must get the same opportunity to participate in play. In fact, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requests States explicitly to “ensure that children with disabilities have equal access with other children to participation in play, recreation and leisure and sporting activities, including those activities in the school system.”

Currently, albeit many efforts have been undertaken to guarantee inclusive education to children with disabilities, the topic of inclusion in moments of play is not yet in the focus of many EU member states and their educational policies. Opportunities of play can arise during the school day, for example in between two lessons when pupils rest – and often play together. Or, they can take place after school, in various leisure and sports activities.

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.

Carl Jung

So, what needs to be done to accomplish inclusion in play?

The PINC partners are using their knowledge, creativity and play instinct to develop a new training programme for future teachers and sports coaches. These young people will then act as change agents in their future jobs, equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to remove barriers to play in sports clubs, associations and schools.

The PINC theoretical and practical guides will build a comprehensive training programme for students of Educational/Sports Sciences. They will contain information on inclusion processes in education; introduce into children’s play and how active games can be adapted in practice; explain how educational inclusive communities can be created. Through the PINC training future teachers will thus be empowered and enabled to facilitate play and active games for all children, no matter if with or without disabilities.

About the project

PINC – Inclusive Playgrounds is cofinanced by Erasmus+ programme, KA2 Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices – Strategic Partnerships for Adult Education. The PINC project addresses the gap of accessibility in children’s play by developing and piloting a targeted education programme for future teachers and educators.


For further information

Read more about PINC and visit the project website.

Contact Dorothea Urban: