Is this the perfect playground, full of junk?
10 May 2014 I The Guardian
An experiment in north Wales lets children – and adults – experience the boundaries of truly free play. Is it madness or a model for the future?
Approaching on a grey, rainy April day, Plas Madoc doesn't look too promising. An estate of 850 houses, seven miles from Wrexham in north Wales, it features high on the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation and has been known locally as Cardboard City and Smack Madoc. There's one shop for all the residents. The leisure centre – a shining light with its "lagoon", climbing wall, squash courts and trampoline – has just shut down because of cuts in funding.
But there is something. If you know your way through the maze, you can find a fenced-off grassy area marked with a sign that reads, "The Land. A Space Full of Possibilities." Go through the gate and your first thought may well be that it's a junkyard. In a space 55m squared, with a brook running through it, you'll see piles of pallets, a tonne of tyres, the odd upside-down boat, wheelbarrows, ladders, fishing nets...
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...."People forget that kids have a sense of self-preservation like we all do," says Paul Hocker of London Play, a kind of play thinktank. "We need to trust them a bit more. I was in the Gambia recently and they had six year olds with machetes cutting down the bush! We're raising a generation who have never been allowed to test themselves."
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