WITH school holidays under way and the sun finally shining, a series of events kicks off this week to get children outside.

The first of six free ‘play days’ begin in Banbury today, followed by Blackbird Leys tomorrow and then Witney, Bicester, Kidlington and in Farmoor, near Oxford.

Tomorrow’s event in Blackbird Leys is set to include a climbing wall, sporting activities, street dance and giant sumo suits.

It follows six events held earlier this year at military bases around the county.

Jane Gallagher, from organisers Oxfordshire Play Association, said: “There are going to be at least 30 different activities at each day.

“Our big message is all these activities are free and many are things people can take away and do at home. A lot of parents worry about the costs of the holidays but our aim is to show them they don’t have to spend a lot of money to entertain children.”

At the Blackbird Leys event on the Cuddesdon Way park, visitors can enjoy a sumo suit obstacle course, sports from the leisure centre and PCSOs showing children how to take fingerprints. There will also be fire pits, the play bus and performances in a tent run by the Oxford Playhouse .

Ms Gallagher said: “A recent study showed that a lack of exercise is now killing more people than smoking across the world.

“Kids need to be more active and they need to start earlier to create those good habits and healthy lifestyles.”

The play days, which cost about £3,000 each and £18,000 overall, were funded by a variety of grant-making trusts and small council grants. The Oxfordshire Play Association, OPA, was set up in 1974 to champion the right of children to have space and time to play.

Ms Gallagher added: “Everyone is welcome to come along, try out new things, have fun and leave with loads of inspiring ideas.”

Bristol-based group Playing Out is also encouraging neighbours to get together and close their roads for children to play outside safely.

Last October, Campbell Road in Cowley became the first to organise a temporary closure for children to play out after school.

For more information on the play days, visit oxon play.org.uk . For more information on street closures for play, visit playingout.net

Play dates

All Play Days run from 11am-3pm and families can drop in any time

  • Today: People’s Park, Banbury
  • Tomorrow: Blackbird Leys Park, Cuddesdon Way
  • Wednesday: The Leys Recreation Ground, Witney
  • Wednesday: Garth Park, Launton Road, Bicester
  • Monday, August 8: Exeter Hall Park, Oxford Road, Kidlington
  • Saturday, September 15: Hill End Centre, Eynsham Road, Farmoor