Wednesday, July 20, 2011

International Play Association Conference - Cardiff, UK

Have recently returned from the UK where I attended this fantastic conference presented by the IPA and Play Wales.
I met lots of wonderful people from all over the globe who were all working towards improving play opportunities for children.
Too much bubbling around in my head at the moment, but check out the website for more information about the conference themes, speakers and the presentations -

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Free Play at school

I am very excited to share a fantastic example of a local Perth school embracing the concepts of nature-based playground design and children's free play.
Completed in time for the first day of school, the pre-primary playground now has a great green grass slope to roll down with large deciduous tree to provide shade, steppers in between some grassy landscape plantings and giant limestone boulders to climb over.

The plans for the new natural play space on the edge of the quadrangle and the large tree log at the edge of the grassed sports field are even more exciting. This work will be undertaken by parent volunteers over the next few weekends.
But inspired by a recent documentary screened on the ABC - The Lost Adventures of Childhood - rather than wait, the school has added loads of great loose parts to stimulate children's imaginative play in the meantime. The kids quickly embraced the concept and the pieces of fabric, cushions and dress ups have been really well used.
I asked the principal about the impact of these changes to the school play areas. His response was clear and strong - "immediate and huge." The kids have made each other laugh with their crazy dress ups, they have collaborated to create interesting and regularly re-designed cubbies and other creations. I can't wait to see the new space when it's completed and see how the children's play continues to evolve.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Battling the floods in the name of play

What an exciting few days - and what a great bunch of people we've met along the way - and despite the rain and flooded roads - we've even visited a few playgrounds!
We are here to talk with local governments, children's services, parents and kids about playgrounds - what they think about their local playgrounds, the specific problems of providing playgrounds in the harsh climates of the Pilbara and the Kimberley; and also to share our knowledge and expertise about playgrounds, safety, the latest research and current trends.
So far we have met with parks and infrastructure teams at the Shire of Roebourne, Shire of Port Hedland and Shire of Ashburton; parents in Karratha, Roebourne and South Hedland. We held forums in Karratha, face to face meetings in Roebourne and set up a table at the South Hedland Shopping Centre.
Not surprisingly, in such hot environments, lack of good shade is most parents' greatest concern. The Shire of Port Hedland has made good progress towards providing fixed shade to many of its playgrounds; and the Shire of Roebourne has just commenced a massive program to install fixed shade over all their playgrounds. We were also impressed that many of the Shire of Port Hedland's playgrounds had self-cleaning toilets, a great help to parents with young children.
Driving from Karratha to Port Hedland on Wednesday was a great challenge because of the flooded roads, but we still managed to stop off in Roebourne and met some very passionate people at Yaandina Child Care Centre and Roebourne's Best Start service.
Today's drive to Newman was a lot dryer thank goodness, so will be able to go ahead with planned activities.
If the roads stay clear we will drive to Tom Price - the last stop on this trip - on Monday; then fly back to Perth on Thursday.
We'll have a few weeks to re-group, then head up to the Kimberleys.