White City win!
29 Oct 2014 I London Play
White City Adventure Playground returned triumphantly to west London yesterday, newly crowned ‘London Adventure Playground of the Year 2014’.
Its success was particularly significant given the plight of two neighbouring adventure playgrounds, Stonebridge and Sands End, now fighting tooth and nail for survival. Playgrounds in Islington, Lambeth and Hackney also saw wins in the London Play awards - while a street in Haringey was named first ever London Play Street of the Year and an Enfield primary cleaned up in the schools category.
Around 150 children from playgrounds, schools, and play streets across London descended on the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley yesterday to see films they had entered into the awards about the places, up in lights and on the big screen. The question on everyone’s lips: who would win the coveted main prize?
Set to Pharrell William’s ‘Happy’, the White City film was shot partially from an improvised tyre-seat on wheels and showed children building stuff from recycled materials, destroying, swinging, climbing, cooking over fire, playing with water, dressing up, getting dirty, painting and generally being free to choose how they play.
Children from the 2013 winning playground at Shakespeare Walk in Hackney handed over the top prize to an excited White City group. “It’s an amazing place,” said Elnaz, 8. “I’m so happy because I didn’t think we were going to win! It’s fabulous.” Elias, 10 added: “I like going there because you get to build anything you want out of wood.”
White City is one of the newer adventure playgrounds in London, having evolved over recent years from a more standard childcare facility to the fully-fledged, award-winning adventure playground that it is today. The winning prize will enhance the playground further with a new structure, designed and built by APEs Adventure Playground Engineers with the help of the children, and £500 worth of free materials.
But with eight award categories for schools and play streets as well as adventure playgrounds, there was plenty more excitement on offer. Along with the films came plenty of popcorn, noise, games and high jinks with compere Charlie Kemp keeping the atmosphere just on the right side of chaos and ensuring that no one went away disappointed.
Islington’s Lumpy Hill Adventure Playground was named ‘Coolest Place to Play’; Lollard Street in Lambeth won the category for ‘Inventiveness’; the KIDS playground in Hackney for disabled children came top for ‘Variety’ and Houndsfield Primary in Enfield wrested the ‘Best Adventure Play in a School’ award off the reigning two-time champion Carterhatch Infants. Reflecting the inexorable rise of play streets in the capital, the inaugural Play Street of the Year title was taken by a jubilant group from Redston Road in Haringey. Florence Hayes Adventure Playground in Enfield took the best film award.
“As we see yet more adventure playgrounds in London come under threat, this annual event has taken on even greater significance – acknowledging and celebrating the life-affirming and even life-transforming role that these places play in the lives of children and young people,” said London Play chair Melian Mansfield. “Only last month heavyweight boxing champion Audley Harrison credited Harlesden’s Stonebridge Adventure Playground, now threatened with demolition, as the place that he learned ‘respect and key life skills’. With a quarter of London’s children living in overcrowded homes and one in five are overweight or obese, space and opportunity to play is vital. Playgrounds like White City are doing a fantastic job with few resources – we hope that these awards make more people understand how valuable these places are and act to protect them.”
John O’Driscoll, director of main award sponsors APES said: “The London Adventure Play Awards offer vital recognition of the difference play makes in the capital, and it’s a privilege to be associated with them.”
Thanks to sponsors APES, Argos and the Worshipful Company of Fanmakers, as well as the Janet Dalglish legacy, for their kind support of these awards.
Films of the event will be uploaded to the London Play YouTube channel shortly.