Care Full Community Play

CARE FULL Community Play

This week, on Tuesday, whilst in the park, I met a Grandma who had 4 children with her, one of them lived with her and the other three were with her whilst one of the parents worked.

I was stewarding the inflatable assault course, although refereeing might be a more accurate description, when she approached.  She isn’t on the Facebook group and didn’t know about the play days. Once she realised everything was free, they joined in, the kids burned off some energy and we had a chat. I mentioned the play day on Thursday and she joined the Facebook group.

Sure enough she showed up on Thursday.  I was sat in a shaded area, making mod roc face and hand masks.  They took a while and so there was plenty of time to natter.

We nattered about all kinds, and she kept returning over the course of the afternoon for another natter.  There was one conversation that I was really struck by, and of course I would remember it as it was about the benefits of community play!

She was telling me about these vouchers that she’d received, that were no use to her.  I don’t drive she said, and all the activities want to split the kids up.  You can’t be in lots of different places at the same time. And these kids like to play together.  I like them to play together too.  They just need a break now and then and play together with others, or play in the same place with other people.  And I need a breather too. Not to get rid of them, but just to be able to have a bit of a rest knowing they are having fun.  I like to watch them having fun too, and have a chat myself.  And, everything is so expensive, she said.  We went to Pizza Hut and my heart almost packed in when the bill came.  I really wasn’t expecting it.  This is ideal. 

I want to be clear, I’m not knocking enrichment activities or spaces where kids can be by themselves, I just feel that community play is the foundational basis.  It was great to see kids who had been to football camps for example, bringing the skills they’d learned and practice them in self organised games at community play.  Watching them organise this year, I noticed how much they’d grown too since last year.  It felt joyful. That feeling you get from caring as a community is really warming. 

And I think this community is also beginning to feel the warmth of care full community play.  I’m not usually one for counting numbers, but I have to say the numbers speak for themselves.  Between 50-100 children, plus adults, at the Playbox every afternoon for 10 days, with 30-40 of the children coming every single day. 

115 children, plus family members at Diggle St Park on Tuesday, and, 80 children, plus family members at St Andrews School on Thursday.  All 50 tickets for the UV party have gone, and we could easily have issued 100.  Those kind of numbers would be worth a small fortune as a holiday activity provider. We are thankful that the local Holiday Activity Fund team in Wigan get this. I feel that this collaboration and investment in community play will continue to grow. 

Aside from the community play we’ve also been dipping our toes into young men and young womens groups this summer.  Mainly with young women and men who know that the education system doesn’t serve them well, and so vote with their feet.  It’s taken a long time to get to here, building relationships and trust with parents first and then getting to know the young people.  The participation in the tiny summer programme has been amazing.  I feel that too has something to do with rooted and collective community care. 


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