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Islington officially 'awesome'

by Fiona on October 26, 2017

26 October 2017

Islington adventure playgrounds romped home with three of the top prizes at the prestigious London Adventure Play Awards today. 

Cape Adventure Playground was crowned ‘London Adventure Playground of the Year 2017’ while Waterside and Barnard adventure playgrounds bagged the ‘Coolest Place to Play’ and ‘All Inclusive’ awards respectively. All three playgrounds are run by Awesome CIC, a community interest company staffed by former council play workers which has only just celebrated its first year of operation.

Aside from the Islington successes, Love Lane in Croydon was named the capital’s best play street for the second year running; Lambeth’s Lollard Street and Hackney’s Shakespeare Walk Adventure Playgrounds got awards for their films; and Hackney’s Pearson Street Adventure Playground won ‘Best Newcomer’.

On Thursday morning around 200 children from adventure playgrounds and community groups across London descended on the Prince Charles Cinema in the heart of the West End, to see films they’d made about the places they play, up on the big screen. All their films had made the shortlist; and with awards in five categories up for grabs as well as the overall winner to be announced, the buzz in the air was electric.

Cape Adventure Playground occupies a small space but is big on variety as its film showed. Children were shown climbing, swinging, building wooden structures, cooking over fires, building dens and getting messy. Archie, aged 8 said: “The Cape is fun, safe and I like making dens here… and the ziplines.” Ash, 10 added: “I love Cape because all of the carers treat you equally and they always listen to you when you want to say something.”

Children from the 2016 winning playground at Roman Road chose this year’s winners and said of Cape: “Really very good. Just amazing.”  They handed over the top award to an elated Cape group – but not before a wreaking havoc with a game of giant volleyball which temporarily transformed the cinema into a beach with a sea of popcorn! The winning prize will make Cape Adventure Playground even better with a new structure, designed and built by APEs Adventure Playground Engineers with the help of the children, and £500 worth of free materials. 

Other prizes were provided by Marks Barfield Architects who donated a trip in a private pod on the London Eye; and Timberplay and Playgarden which gave a set of play bales.

Along with the films came plenty of popcorn, noise, games and high jinks with compere Charlie keeping the atmosphere just on the right side of chaos with marshmallow eating competitions, an open-mic talent show and blind taste tests.

Becky Pryce, Director of Play at Awesome CIC said: “We are all so happy and chuffed to have won these three awards. Especially since we've just gone through our first year managing the six adventure playgrounds in Islington; it’s the icing on the cake!  The films only capture some of the exciting opportunities that happen on adventure playgrounds and the London Play awards help remind you of how valuable adventure playgrounds are in any child's life.”

London Play’s chair, Melian Mansfield said:  “As the number of stories in the media highlighting concerns about children’s wellbeing, resilience and happiness continue to rise, the number of adventure playgrounds in London are in decline – with Lambeth and Enfield both closing facilities over recent months. This annual event plays an important role in recognising and celebrating the life-affirming and even life-transforming role that these places play in the lives of children and young people.”

She continued: “With a quarter of London’s children living in overcrowded homes and one in five overweight or obese, space and opportunity to play is vital. Playgrounds like Cape, Barnard, Lollard Street and Pearson Street are doing a fantastic job with few resources – we hope that these awards will help 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.”

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