Adventure play in London
A recipe: Take three gallons of adventure, add equal parts dirt, leaves, bits of old wood and paint and stir in a large dollop of creative freedom. Combine with a few pinches of risk (adjust according to taste); then sprinkle over some qualified staff, free access (if possible) and a liberal helping of local kids to activate the mixture. Blend well and leave to develop in an urban neighbourhood.
There are around 80 adventure playgrounds in London, each one a unique and magical place where children and young people are free to be outside, get dirty, create, climb, imagine, explore, grow food, dig, make friends, light fires, experiment, build things, expand their horizons and challenge their limits – among other things. Many are located in deprived urban neighbourhoods where the opportunities for kids to have such experiences are limited. Professional and qualified play workers are there to create an environment in which these activities can occur and evolve at the kids’ choosing, and which is free from prejudice, intimidation and dangerous dogs!
Most adventure playgrounds have their own buildings as well as outdoor spaces and play structures. Many have quiet places for children to read or do homework, a few have computers and some have after-school clubs which provide formal child-care for working parents. Some run youth clubs for teenagers, others provide a meeting place for parent and toddler groups.
About half of London’s adventure playgrounds are run by councils and the other half, by voluntary sector groups. Often they rely heavily on the input of volunteers to manage, run and maintain them. Many are fighting for survival and it is an important part of London Play’s work to help promote and protect these vital but endangered places for current and future generations of Londoners.
"The adventure playground quite simply tries to answer one question: What kind of play did we all most enjoy when we were young and how can we best provide these opportunities in a crowded city?"
Lady Allen of Hurtwood, founder of the adventure playground movement in the UK, writing in 1961
A history of adventure play in London can be found here
Find an adventure playground here
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