Comedian Matt Lucas and actress Olivia Colman have joined forces with Great Ormond Street Hospital's play team to launch their new Power of Play hub – a new free online activity resource for children.
The hub came about following research by GOSH Charity, which discovered that two thirds (66%) of parents polled were concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on how children play will have long-term impacts on their child's wellbeing.
Three-quarters (74%) of parents said that play has "helped their child cope" as the world around them has changed beyond recognition.
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The Power of Play hub provides an outlet for children to express themselves and their emotions, with brand new stories, audio recordings, activities and ideas that use play to help children (and their parents) cope with all types of childhood challenges.
Actress Olivia Colman voices a TV advert to support the campaign, while Little Britain star Matt Lucas narrates a poem featuring Tweedledee and Tweedledum about the pair being separated due to illness.
Matt Lucas said: "What is Tweedledee without Tweedledum? As we discover in this beautiful new poem, he is worried and anxious at being far away from his much-loved brother. It was a moving experience to step back into the characters of Dee and Dum once more, and share their feelings with other children and parents who might have struggled with being far away from their loved ones, especially during the last 18 months.
"I hope the raucous, playful game that Alice introduces them to in this poem will inspire parents and children alike to turn to play as a way of coping during times of sadness."
A new Peter Pan story!
The online hub also has a new Peter Pan story, in which Peter feels lonely but Tinker Bell devises a game to give Peter the confidence he needs to tackle his worries and make new friends.
Beano fans will gain support from the website's exclusive comic, where Dennis and Gnasher use play and pranks to come to terms with a cancer diagnosis. And there's new animation of Hey Duggee, who uses play to help Frog when her new siblings arrive, and things feel different.
Dennis and Gnasher fans will be thrilled
Coming soon to the hub in October is a new Horrid Henry animation and an audiobook from CBeebies' JoJo & Gran Gran.
The free animations, audiobooks and activities are designed to help parents and children deal with themes including loss, loneliness, sadness, illness and isolation, which many children have experienced during the pandemic.
Check out the new animation from Hey Duggee
Laura Walsh, Head of Play at Great Ormond Street Hospital says: "Play is a superpower at the fingertips of all children, and it’s especially important at times of change or worry, when building our children’s resilience can help them to cope with life’s challenges.
"While the last 18 months have seen children adapt to circumstances none of us could have imagined, this September they’ll also have the ordinary childhood experiences likes starting school and making new friends.
"Using our years of experience as play specialists at GOSH, we have teamed up with GOSH Charity and some much-loved children’s characters to create our Power of Play hub and bring to life the transformative power of play. We’re really proud to offer parents free, trustworthy, practical tips and resources to help their children embrace play to overcome their worries and discover all that life has to offer them."
Visit GOSH's Power of Play hub at gosh.org/play