The Finns are likin’ their Leiki

Woke up to a report on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about research in Finland into the use of play and playgrounds as life-extension technology (RealAudio clip -will disappear unless someone *ahem* archives it…)

It was also featured (in a more fluffy way) in today’s Guardian:

“…a study by a team from the University of Lapland found that a group of elderly Finns between the ages of 65 and 81 saw significant improvement in their balance and coordination after three months of swings and roundabouts. Many of the subjects also said they felt empowered by using the playground equipment, although one can claim to be empowered by just about anything these days. The Finns are now planning to redesign their playgrounds to suit grannies as well as toddlers.”

When we started our work on Play in Nokia, I remember Janne remarking that the verb for ‘play’ – Leiki – in Finnish was associated with ‘childishness’ in a negative way.

This research is heartening.

Reclaiming ‘play’ as something that enriches us all throughout our lives (cf. ‘The Play Ethic‘ which also features Finland prominently), and creating places that encourage both that and *ahem* intergenerational play (don’t be dirty…) can only be a good thing.

Or at least, swings and roundabouts.


Hippy moment over.

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