A friend of mine is involved with an amazing community-based project called ‘Friends of Pentre Gardens’.
It’s a brilliant project that was set up to promote local green park space for the community of Grangetown, in Cardiff. Its’ aim is to keep the area safe, clean and user-friendly, and to deliver a fantastic outdoor playscheme which promotes free-play for the children who live in the community. The initiative also works together, (with the help of the Parks Department), to improve and maintain the park, by planting flowers and maintaining the trees and bushes, as well as to generally promote the area for the enjoyment of the local community.
It’s a wonderful project, as it gets children to play outside safely in spite of living in an urban area.
Recently, I took part in one of these play sessions.
Set in the park, we provided an afternoon offering a range of play opportunities for children to take part in. There were many different types of play activities on offer and all were freely available to the children for them to choose.
My favourite element of these events is arts and craft activities. The materials are fantastic, and fit nicely into the idea of using objects that aren’t necessarily ‘shop bought craft’. The materials come from a local scrapstore, which provides a huge variety of recycled objects collected from firms around South Wales. Paper and card, off cuts of material, plastic discs and tops of bottles, and all shapes and sizes of cloth. Items that most people would think of throwing away, the organisation called “Recreate” collects them and sells them in job-lots to the public.
It’s a really clever way of introducing children tothe concept of recycle and re-use.
The children are able to rummage through bags of treasures, seeking out inspiration to create their own personal craft creations.
Because the scheme is set in a green space, the children have the opportunity to play cricket, ball games and sack races, or whatever their imagination lets them discover. The staff are there to encourage and facilitate play experiences.
My daughters’ favourite part of the day was the make-shift swing and hammock. Both were made from recycled materials….. an old net and some strong elasticy-type material. Tied around the trees in the park, the children spend ages swinging back and forth on the swing and taking it in turns to relax, (and be bounced very high), in the homemade hammock. Two very simple but very effective ideas that the children adored and it was the last thing that was taken down at the end of the session!
We had a wonderful afternoon, and my daughter loves going to the playschemes. She enjoys having the freedom to play and explore. It’s a fantastic project that’s a huge benefit to the community and the dedication of the volunteers and staff is amazing.
It’s a great project that allows children to be free and, most important of all, gets everyone to play together!
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