Documentary celebrates why play is important to children

A new film by Play Wales – the national charity for children’s play in Wales – captures why play is vital to children’s development, mental health, wellbeing, and happiness.

Narrated by actor Matthew Rhys, the documentary was filmed over two years across Wales. It includes interviews with both children and adults talking candidly about the benefits of play, including a cameo from another Welsh film star, Michael Sheen.

Play Wales commissioned the film to highlight to parents, carers, and adults working with children and families the importance of play in children’s lives in Wales, and how they can support it. From street play to playgrounds, living rooms to back gardens, the film captures play in all its different guises and offers a unique insight into what play means to children of all ages.

Childhood friends Matti and Dylan from Bishopston, Swansea feature heavily in the documentary. Now in their early teens, they understand just how important play is to their daily lives.

“People think that all the wonders and possibilities are in a screen but there are more things to do. You also forget about all your problems and worries, and just think about the game you’re playing.” said Dylan.

Matti adds: “It’s also about your mental health, because if you don’t see or speak to anyone, you wouldn’t be happy, but if you see people every day and play with them then you’ll be fine.”

Mike Greenaway, Director of Play Wales, said: “If children spend so much of their waking time playing it must be important to them. Ironically, it may be that the experiences of the last few years has helped them and us understand why. Our challenge at Play Wales is to help everyone recognise that nothing could be more important to our children’s lives than… play.”

The film also includes interviews with adults reflecting on their first play memory and how it left an indelible mark on them.

“I think you learn a lot about yourself when you play. It’s just a part of life, part of socialising. I think it’s a great thing playing even when you’re older,” said Anisha Mustafa from Newport.

The film premiered at the Tramshed in Cardiff and was screened two days later to an audience of children and playworkers at Tŷ Pawb in Wrexham. It’s now available to watch online on Play Wales’ website (, as well as its Playful Childhoods website, which is intended for parents and carers (

The documentary was created by Cardiff based creative agency Working Word.

James Nee, Head of Creative at Working Word, says: “From the outset, we quickly learnt what we were capturing wasn’t simply the activity in front of us. Every shoot was filled with countless interactions where children were developing skills, making friends, building confidence, and learning about the world around them. There is so much wrapped inside of play, and the film unravels that to show why play is so crucial to all children.”

For further information, please contact James Nee ( at 02920 455182.


Play Wales

Play Wales is the national charity for children’s play in Wales, funded by the Welsh Government. Their vision is a future where play is respected for its critical importance to childhood, and their mission is advocating for a play friendly Wales and championing children’s right to play.

Playful Childhoods

Playful Childhoods is a campaign that aims to help parents and carers give children time, space, and support to play at home and in their local community.

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