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6th Jul, 2022

Warwickshire five-year-old appointed as Ikea's 'chief play officer'

IT WILL be no work and all play for Ikea’s first ‘chief play officer’ – that is, five-year-old Toby Watts from Warwickshire.

The fun-loving youngster was selected from over 500 children, aged between four and 12, across the UK. They submitted video applications to the team which posted the role on business networking site LinkedIn.

But it was Toby who won the hearts of Ikea workers, who collectively made the decision, with his creative video in which he recites a poem about his love for playing.

Toby tells the camera: “I love making and baking and drawing and roaring. I love hiding and riding and seeking and finding. I love building with bricks and creating with sticks. Cars, trains, boats and planes. And I’m always ready to play lots of games! Let’s use our imagination to make a creation!”

As part of its mission to encourage play and creativity, Ikea has ‘hired’ Toby to offer invaluable insight into what children respond best to when playing. It comes as research from the Swedish retailer shows children are spending 254 hours less playing each year than their parents did at the same age. Despite most parents agreeing play is important to their kids’ development, unfortunately the pressures of daily life seem to be getting in the way, with 86 per cent wishing they had more time to spend playing with their children.

The retailer also believes the pandemic has had a negative impact on children’s attitudes towards play, with almost 60 per cent of youngsters playing less now than they did before the coronavirus crisis. Almost three quarters of parents say they’ve noticed a change in their child’s mood.

Ikea spokesman Thomas Parker said: “From the 500 wonderfully creative applications we received, one thing is apparent – we have made the right decision in recruiting a young chief play officer.

“The creation of this role puts the focus back on play and gives the power of creation to those who really know their stuff: children. We are delighted to welcome Toby and we look forward to working together this year.”

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