Minister O’Gorman announces roll out of Summer of Play initiative with €6m in funding for outdoor play

Summer of Play

From Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth 

Published on 1 June 2021

Last updated on 31 May 2021

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, T.D., today announced the Summer of Play initiative to support and encourage children and their families to get outside and play as restrictions ease in the coming months. The initiative will see grants, supports and information resources rolled out over the summer months, creating opportunities for children and their families to enjoy a summer of play.

This coincides with the Minister’s launch of a new parenting e-learning course from Tusla and a number of research reports on parents and parenting in Ireland, to mark Global Day of Parents. Parents have a critical role in ensuring positive outcomes for children, and the past year has been particularly challenging. This day is an opportunity to recognise and appreciate all people in a parenting role.

As part of the Summer of Play launch, the Minister announced €6 million in funding to support outdoor play. The funding is being rolled out through two grants:

  • The Playing Outside Grant for Early Learning and Care and School-Aged Childcare services will provide €5.5 million in funding for services to enhance their outdoor spaces.
  • €450,000 for the Local Authorities Play and Recreation grant will fund the refurbishment and development of playgrounds and play areas across the country. The projects funded encompass a wide range of initiatives that will deliver diverse benefits to children and young people and have a positive impact on communities. They include projects such as sensory gardens, learn to cycle tracks, and natural play trails.

The Minister also announced a resource for families to support their children’s play – Let’s Play Ireland. The Let’s Play Ireland website, which was originally launched in 2020 and gives families access to a range of play resources for children, has now been updated and relaunched for summer 2021. The resource includes content on activities for parents to enjoy with their children, tips on supporting children with their feelings, and ideas and activities for learning through play.

Launching the Summer of Play, the Minister said:

“We all know that play is how children grow, learn and discover. And after a tough year, it will also be how children reconnect with their family, friends and their communities and recover from the impact of the pandemic.

“In response to the very difficult times children have experienced because of the pandemic, we want to help make sure that children get outside, play, and have fun. To that end, I’ll be announcing funding, supports and resources throughout the summer for them to do just that.

“The Let’s Play Ireland website on has been updated and is packed with new resources for children and families to enjoy. The two grants I’m announcing today will further support this by providing safe, inclusive spaces for children to play in their communities:

  • Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare services have already risen to the challenge of adapting to the current Covid-19 restrictions by enhancing their outside spaces to support children to spend more time outside. The Playing Outside Grant will help services to further develop their outdoor spaces for learning and play.
  • The Local Authorities Play & Recreation Grant will support works to ensure playgrounds are safe and inclusive for all children to enjoy, which will be so important as the restrictions due to Covid-19 are lifted.

“A series of other exciting funded initiatives will roll out of over the coming weeks – all of them promoting a summer of play”.

Welcoming the announcement, Ruth (8) said:

“I love playing because it’s so much fun with my friends. I love moving around, it makes me happy and joyful.”

The summer of play was also welcomed by Elise (8), who commented:

“I’m excited to play because it’s fun and my friends are kind.”

Hugh (4) commented:

“I really, really, really like playing.”

For more information on the Summer of Play initiative, go to


Notes to the Editor:

Playing Outside Grant under the Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare Capital Programme

The objective of this grant is to support services to enhance their outdoor spaces for play and learning. .

The Playing Outside Grant will be administered by Pobal on behalf of the Department. Pobal will provide further information on the application process to services, including detailed application guidelines, in early June. The application process will open on 18 June.

The breakdown of the grant allocation to services is as follows and is available to Tusla registered early learning and care and school-age childcare services that are in receipt of DCEDIY funding:

Number of Children RegisteredGrant Amount AvailableNumber of Services Supported

Local Authorities Play & Recreation Capital Grant scheme

All 31 Local Authorities will benefit from funding for 52 projects under the Capital Grant Scheme in 2021.

The purpose of the 2021 DCEDIY Play and Recreation Capital Funding Scheme is to support refurbishment of play and recreation amenities for children and young people; to include the provision of new equipment, the refurbishment of existing play facilities, with an emphasis on natural play areas.

The application process was open to all Local Authorities, each Local Authority could apply for up to three separate projects; with funding being capped at €30k for each Local Authority (the awarding of this funding is contingent on the Local Authority co-funding each successful project with 25% of the funding allocated by DCEDIY).

A key criteria of the scheme is that proposed projects must be accessible and inclusive for all children; other criteria measured included the added value of each project to young people and assurances regarding the safety of facilities comprising the proposed projects.

Let’s Play Ireland 2021

The Let’s Play Ireland campaign and online resource was originally launched in 2020, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The campaign aimed to provide supports and resources to help families support their children’s play and provide them with opportunities to play safely while restrictions continued.

Let’s Play 2021 will focus on promoting a summer of play, with the online portal on providing access to a range of play resources for children. As well as activities for parents to enjoy with their children, the online resources also give tips on supporting children with their feelings, and ideas and activities for learning through play. Additional resources will be developed and added to the Let’s Play Ireland 2021 online portal on over the coming weeks and month.

Other funded initiatives under Let’s Play Ireland 2021 Campaign will be announced throughout the summer.

The online resources are available at

National Play Day

National Play Day will commence on the first weekend in July. In advance of this, additional grants will be announced to fund events held by Local Authorities to promote play and recreation in local communities and focus where possible on children who face additional challenges.

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