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    Don’t underestimate child’s play (physical not digital). It may look like leisure time, but when children are playing cops and robbers or fighting imaginary dragons, they’re actually developing crucial life skills — and preparing their brains for the challenges of adulthood.

     The bad news (with the advent of computer games, iPad and internet), is that free playtime activities have been shrinking for children over the past three decades. As parents, we have also become too protective and paranoid about our children’s safety. I grew up in Quiapo and the streets were my playground playing hide & seek in between the parked vehicles with my neighborhoods’ friends. I would only go home at dinner time….all sweaty and grimy. Today, I can’t imagine any parents of certain economic class leaving their children to play outside on the streets without a phalanx of yayas, bodyguards and drivers.

     But to quote Steve Hilton, author of More Human (an insightful and highly enjoyable book), “Play is essential, but not just to any one child’s development; it’s essential for the development of humanity itself. This is obvious to those who observe it up close. What is play but tinkering, trying new things, new combinations, new rules, new roles, new ideas? Play is the essence of experimentation, of risk taking, of innovation. Play leads to progress.”

     The good news is that we now have KidZania at Bonifacio Global City. KidZania’s premise is simple. It bills itself as ‘the only place in the world where a kid can think, work, feel and play like an adult’. KidZania, which is aimed at children aged 4-14, isn’t merely about ‘play’: it’s a rapidly expanding ‘educational entertainment’ brand, a global franchise started in Mexico that currently has 18 further sites in five different continents. 

     ABS-CBN Chair Gabby Lopez, who’s still very much a kid at heart himself, saw his first Kidzania in Seoul just a few years ago and instinctively knew he had to bring it to the Philippines. And when it came to the choice of supermarket at KidZania Manila, Gabby knew (and pointedly said to me) it just had to be Healthy Options. 

     And so let me invite you all to bring your children, grandchildren, godchildren, nieces and nephews between the ages of 4-14 to Healthy Options KidZania. For a change, KidZania is the only place where ‘unaccompanied’ adults (i.e. without children along) are not allowed to enter. See you there!

 

Best of health,

Romy Sia

 r[email protected]