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.