Five years of play!

After five years of bringing together the movement for play, the Real Play Coalition partners will now collaborate on targeted projects, continuing their commitment to supporting the development and wellbeing of children through play.


Founded in 2018 by UNICEF, National Geographic, Arup, IKEA and the LEGO Foundation, the coalition has successfully recognised, brought together and supported people and organisations that share a collective commitment to play.


Through events and collaboration, ground-breaking research and thought leadership, practical tools and global competitions for urban practitioners and cities, the Real Play Coalition has inspired and connected a movement of people and organisations that provide millions of children with more access to play.


Here are just some of the highlights of five years of play.


Development of the Urban Play Framework, a planning tool to understand how urban systems relate to a child’s playful learning experience and prioritise opportunities for play. We then applied the guide to involve children, caregivers and the broader community in an assessment of the barriers to play and potential play opportunities and interventions in London, Cape Town and Milan.


A collaboration with the Resilient Cities Network and cities of Houston, Milan, Belfast, Barcelona, Colima, Ramallah and Tbilisi to explore and promote how play can contribute to urban resilience. The global research, insights and practical examples generated through a global survey, peer-to-peer learning activities and public events is compiled into the ‘Strengthening Urban Resilience through Play’ report.


The Playful Cities Toolkit and Design Guide, developed by Arup and the LEGO Foundation in partnership with the Real Play Coalition, bringing together the fields of play and placemaking to help understand the complexities of play in cities and design of play-based interventions.


Insights on Nature-based Play, collated into a report following a session at COP26 in which experts explored the connections between play, nature and climate resilience. The report combines the knowledge shared by specialists in play, climate change, child development and the built environment, as well as 11 global case studies showing existing examples delivering both social and climate progress.


Advocating at major events worldwide including the World Urban Forum, Placemaking Week Europe, COP, the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 and the MCA Awards 2022, where the Real Play Coalition won the ‘Best use of thought leadership Award’.


Launching and running a global competition, with PlacemakingX, The Real Play City Challenge in 2019 and 2022. The competition recognizes and celebrates the urban practitioners and cities using play to help communities tackle their most pressing challenges.


Building on the progress and partnerships formed over the past five years, the founding partners of the Real Play Coalition will now collaborate and work with other organisations on targeted projects and ideas to support the development and wellbeing of children through play.

Jerome Frost, Chair of Arup UK, India, Middle East and Africa, said:


“Arup is dedicated to shaping a better world and this includes making sure children have time and space for the play that they need to thrive. Change takes collaboration and we have joined with partners from a range of sectors to make real progress on play worldwide. The Real Play Coalition has started the conversation and helped to connect, equip and galvanise the global movement for play. We look forward to continuing to work with Coalition partners and other playmakers to create opportunities for play across the world and are committed to applying the tools created and lessons learned through the Coalition to our everyday work.”