The Play Quest Programme was established in 2006 and aimed to support children's involvement in decision making through play. The programme was delivered by The Big Deal’s team of Play Rangers based in PlayBoard and involved a wide range of settings that catered for children aged 0–10 years.
The programme aimed to increase children’s participation, and was underpinned by the principles and values of effective playwork, i.e. ‘that children choose what they do, how they do it and why they do it’.
Play Rangers worked with over 100 organisations throughout Northern Ireland including schools, preschools, parent and toddler groups, school aged childcare providers, youth clubs, uniformed and church groups and projects with a specific focus e.g. looked after children, children with a disability, or those from minority ethnic or rural communities.
The Play Rangers worked in each setting for up to a period of one week to deliver a tailored programme designed to empower children. By using a flexible approach of delivery, tailored to suit the specific needs of each group or organisations. This included an initial visit, observation of play, delivery of the programme and a follow-up visit. The programme also had an emphasis on working with organisations in clusters within communities to help develop and sustain partnerships.
For example, Play Quest helped to increase a group's capacity to include and engage with children who would not traditionally participate in activities.
The Playquest programme information leaflet gives more information on the process.
As part of the Play Quest process, the Play Ranger team produced a resource which could be used independently by groups to help them to explore the key issues around the participation of children. "Creating Meaningful Participation for Children" contains a range of exercises as well as background information on participation.
An independent evaluation of the programme was carried out in 2008.