Children get to build their own playground

City leaders in the United Kingdom initiated a project, which enabled children from deprived areas to actively participate in the design of a play facility. The project was funded by the UK Big Lottery to promote interpersonal skills development of the children. 

Children’s play has long been understood to have a key role, both in their wellbeing and satisfaction as children, and in the development of their future life skills.

Joint efforts and funding

The UK National Curriculum advocates as a tool to encourage young people to take ownership of their learning and recognise they are the key protagonists in creating personal economic well being.

The East Hertfordshire District Council recognised the success of creating a sustainable play facility, in a residential area of significant social deprivation. Therefore they relied on young people being fully engaged in the design and construction process.

Sutcliffe Play, an internationally renowned, child-centred, play equipment designer and manufacturer, was awarded the project contract.

The UK Big Lottery, who provided the funds for the project, set the following measurable outcomes:

  • 100 young people will have gained improved social skills after being involved in the participatory design process.
  • 50 young people will have gained self confidence after being involved in the participatory design and construction process.

“To inform the tender process, the council established the ‘Ware Wildside Steering Group’ who had been working with an independent consultant, Child UK, to determine the most popular play activities,” said Robert Whitelock, Snug Creative Advisor, Sutcliffe Play Ltd.

Building relationships through play

Whitelock explained, “Sutcliffe Play maintained the group’s involvement in the design and construction process and through a comprehensive range of activities was able to engage a significant proportion of the local community, including local young people, residents, community police and community youth workers.”

The project set out to fully engage young people in the design and construction of a local play area but resulted in generating much wider participation from the entire community.

The presenter also explained how it enabled different groups stakeholders to contribute in a fun and productive way, enabling real consultation to take place that created a sustainable community play space.

“Having recently celebrated the 20th anniversary on the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, this project provides an opportunity to show how young people can lead, inspire and make a direct impact on the life chances of their local community, regardless of social and economic conditions, “concluded Whitelock.

“It fully embraces UNICEF’s definition of a Child Friendly City and provides a role model for organisations facing similar opportunities.”

About Sutcliffe Play

Sutcliffe Play is one of the world’s leading designers and manufacturers of children’s play equipment, with their headquarters and factory in Upton, West Yorkshire, UK.

Author: Marketa Vesela

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