International researchers to study children’s play in Scotland

By Press Office

Queen Margaret University (QMU) has welcomed four fully funded international PhD students as part of a £2.2 million EU-funded programme dedicated to supporting children’s play. The trans-European programme will help address the challenges of play deprivation due to poverty, disabilities, migration, age or gender.

The P4Play programme will develop a child-centred research programme in four key areas: People, Place, Policy and Practice. It is the first joint doctoral programme of its kind and is a collaboration with the Departments of Occupational Science and of Occupational Therapy from QMU, Lulea University of Technology, Sweden, Zurich University of Applied Sciences and is co-ordinated by University College Cork.

The four students (from a total cohort of eight) who will be studying jointly at QMU are from Austria, Germany, Spain and USA. Working together with fifteen partner organisations including NGOs and advocacy groups including The East Lothian Play Association and Play Scotland, their input to P4PLAY contributes to the European Research Area (ERA) by helping to overcome the gap between Occupational Therapy practice and research.

Dr Sarah Kantartzis, senior lecturer in Occupational Therapy at QMU, said: “Children have a right to play and its benefits on wellbeing, education and health are well known. Scotland is already very advanced in its thinking about play, and this programme will allow children to tell us about their world, influence policy and promote their rights to play. Some of the projects will look at characteristics of play and issues arising around gender and poverty, others will look at play spaces and policy implementation. We believe the outcome of the research will open play opportunities for children at risk of play deprivation.

“This is a unique opportunity for graduates to collaborate across Europe and develop knowledge about the importance of play across diverse groups We are delighted to be part of a programme that is nurturing a new generation of early stage researchers who can translate and implement innovative play solutions to benefit the health and wellbeing of diverse children, families, and communities.”

Visit for more information about the programme.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 861257.

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