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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 December 2007, 16:19 GMT
National strategy on play pledged
Adventure playground
Playgrounds let children take risk in a controlled environment
A national play strategy is to be launched early next year in England to try to improve children's lives.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls also pledged to invest 160m to develop youth facilities for young people over the next two years.

A further 225m will be spent over three years - enough he said to build 30 supervised adventure play parks and build or upgrade 3,500 playgrounds.

Parents and children had told him they wanted safe places to play, he said.

For children in their early teenage years, supervised adventure play is great
Ed Balls
Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families

The youth services cash could be used to create 50 new state of the art youth centres, 500 refurbished youth centres or 2,000 smaller centres including mobile units, Mr Balls said.

He urged MPs to start working with voluntary sectory, young people and local communities on drawing up plans to bid for the money.

The 225m investment in playgrounds would lead to an average of 23 playgrounds in each local authority area, he added.

Earlier he told BBC Breakfast: "We all are having to balance, on the one hand, keeping our children safe and also letting them play and learn about risk.

"That's best done in a good, safe and bright place and decent playgrounds where kids can play and be safe are brilliant.

"For children in their early teenage years - supervised adventure play is great and as young children go into their teenage years we have got to invest in youth services."

Child psychology expert at Brunel University Dr Nicola Madge said: "Children want challenge. They need to learn how to take risks."

Adrian Voce from Play England said play was vitally important for different aspects of children's development.

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