Soft play is one of those things that lots of parents have lots of opinions on. Love it or loathe it, most parents will, at some stage or another, venture into a soft play centre with their children.
Where I live there are a fair few soft play centres, and I follow a few of them on Facebook. One such centre, Let Loose in Hazel Grove, Stockport posted up a Facebook status on Friday afternoon.
Now… I fully accept that providing and promoting a healthy eating attitude is the responsibility of parents, but I do think that those places aimed at children have a responsibility to provide appropriate food and drink. Whenever we go to a soft play centre the children generally have fruit (it’s provided free on certain days at my preferred soft play) or a slice of toast. They would not be given sweets – and judging by the pictures chupa chups lollies and other high sugar delights.
I commented on the post with the comment:
I will probably get flamed for this BUT if this is a genuine new thing then I think its a poor choice, you’re a children’s play centre, you should be promoting healthy eating etc, not having a sweet shop on site. The food sold at soft play centres is often not up to standard – I haven’t been to let loose for a while now so don’t know what your menu is like – but I think opening a sweet shop is poor judgement.
I was amazed when pretty quickly my comment started getting lots of likes and people posting underneath to say they agreed with me. It seems I am not the only one who sees this as an inappropriate addition to the play centre.
Maybe I’m being a bit over the top, but for me when we see the constant issues in the press about rising levels of childhood obesity then I really do think those areas aimed at children should be offering up healthy food options. The obesity levels in under 10s has TREBLED in the past 25 years. In 2005 42 MILLION UNDER 5’S were considered obese (worldwide figures). I find that mind boggling. I get that I don’t have to buy sweets for my children. I get that my role as parent is to provide good choices for my children. But some people don’t. I believe that supermarkets, museums, hospitals and attractions and playcentres such at Let Loose have an obligation to remove temptation.
Let Loose have made the choice to give over a whole room (and staff) to this new venture. Would it not have been better to set up a messy play room or a role play area? Something that actually many children can’t or don’t experience at home? If a role play area was set up, ie: a shop or a post office then I would definitely be taking Daniel and Emma there – we have been to Eureka in Halifax and they enjoyed that. To have something like that so close would be brilliant. If they did messy play I would book them in to it. Instead they have opted to sell sweets. It just seems like a really poor choice by their management. One that doesn’t match their responsibilities to their customers.
The post has been on their page since Friday – they haven’t replied except to say that they have sent me a direct message (they haven’t) and commented on another person’s comment which is basically just tagging lots of people in. So, I’m not really sure what their response will be. I will update this post if/when Let Loose reply.
*update* over the course of Sunday evening Let Loose deleted a series of negative comments whilst those in support suddenly appeared. I had at least 15 comments deleted (many asking why me comments were being deleted!) and I suspect at least five other comment were deleted from other users. Let Loose eventually put a comment up asking why did I feel that the needed to answer to me. I am not sure they understand their social responsibilities a a children’s attraction.
There is a separate issue about engineering their Facebook comments page too, again a lack of understanding about just what social media is and how it works….
What’s your view on this? Are you bothered by the foods on offer at soft play centres? Am I being over the top?