Play is a vital part of growing up and a National Lottery funded project in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot has proved it is good for wider community life too. In this blog, director of Play Right Becky Cole explains how thousands of children and young people have benefited.
In 2010, the National Lottery Community Fund funded Play Right in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, aimed at bringing more and better play opportunities to isolated communities and those communities where playing outside was difficult.
To realise our dream, we worked in partnership with the City and County of Swansea and Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council. In Neath Port Talbot, an ex-service coach was converted into a mobile play space that could reach 20 rural communities during the four years of the project. Then in Swansea, three communities received four years of support from three community play workers, to develop spaces and set up play committees.
Underused community spaces were revived, parents helped out at sessions, young volunteers started their own committees and played out together with the freedom and confidence childhood should allow. All play sessions on this project were open access, offering children and young people the opportunity to build their confidence, widen social networks and to begin to play out safely in a supervised environment.
This project has made a huge impact on, not only children’s lives, but community life too. Play is a vital part of growing, and this project gave thousands of children the opportunity to play out with the support and encouragement of experienced play workers.
Over 70 local volunteers engaged in the project and 23 received accredited training. Over 9000 children and young people engaged in play provision and events, and this project leaves behind seven new and improved local play spaces for children and young people to continue to play out together.
We’ve now produced a film that captures some of the positive impact this project had, and to demonstrate the power that free choice in play has on children and young people’s development. Hearing what the project has meant to individuals and families has been wonderful.