Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, teenagers’ chances to socialise outside with friends have been affected, especially during lockdowns. We wanted to hear directly from teenagers about how the regulations have affected how and where they spend time outdoors.

Jake, Jed and Elliot, all aged 14 and Ianto, aged 12 from Swansea tell us about their experiences of spending time outdoors in their community during the first lockdown back in Spring 2020.  

Bishopston Skatepark Project is a child-led project in Swansea which has been working for over two years to create a space to meet, socialise, and have fun in an environment, that is free for anyone to use.

For Jake, keeping active by skateboarding and biking in his local community was important. He told us: ‘This has helped me loads with my well-being. When the Caswell Bay Carpark was closed there were loads of kids and adults skateboarding there every day, it was like a community park. This just proved to me that a skate, bike and scooter facility is needed.’

Elliott told us that staying healthy has been a vital part of lockdown for him: ‘As soon as I knew the five-mile rule had been lifted, I cycled to Morriston and back! I feel that in a post-lockdown world, we will need to do whatever we can to rebuild and reconnect as a community. Public spaces, especially outdoors, will come in handy so much in coming months when it comes to building those vital social connections again.’

Jed agreed that being out and about mountain biking and skateboarding helped his mental health and well-being: ‘During lockdown I have found it a struggle to find somewhere to skate around the village and nearby. I know this has been the case for many others.’

Ianto missed going to the skatepark in town when it closed. He decided to raise some interest to support a local skatepark by doing a 1000 OLLIE Foundation challenge: ‘I used the empty car parks to practice and I completed it in two and a half hours, I raised over £500! Having a pump track near my house would be amazing. I could meet up with friends, practice tricks and I could cycle or skate there by myself.’

Jake, Jed, Elliot and Ianto’s stories remind us how important playing is to teenagers’ well-being and happiness. As we continue work our way through the pandemic and restrictions, teenagers still need and want to play and relax.

As parents, we want to continue to support our children during this challenging times. To help parents make sure children have plenty of time, space and freedom to play, we have a range of practical resources to support playing in and around the home.