The Royal Parks charity invited local children from around Greenwich Park to attend a launch event on Tuesday to celebrate the completion of a new inclusive playground in the park.
The charity’s Chief Executive, Andrew Scattergood, opened the bespoke £350,000 maritime-themed playground in a ceremony attended by local families. This was followed by party games and activities and the children were invited to plant the final blooms in the playground’s planting scheme, with flowers chosen for scent and colour to create a sensory experience.
The playground was built thanks to generous support from the London Marathon Charitable Trust. The Trust is also co-funding a three-year play programme with The Royal Parks to help children spend more time outdoors and actively play in nature, in partnership with local charity, London Play.
The Royal Parks worked closely with the local community, including Greenwich Parent Voice, a group of parents with children with special educational needs or disabilities, to ensure that the layout is as inclusive as possible for children of all ages and abilities.
Vivien Davies is a community group organiser, dog lover and full-time carer. She lives in Greenwich with her husband, her teenage son, her young daughter who has complex needs, and a very lively Labrador.
She says: “Together with other local parents we’ve helped ensure the designs are inclusive, giving our thoughts on the sketches and models and providing insights from families of children with disabilities. It’s been incredibly rewarding to see the designs evolve into a finished facility that children of all abilities can enjoy.
“My daughter has difficulties with her co-ordination, so it’s essential the playground design is accessible, so she can practise her movement skills, take risks and enjoy the sensory opportunities of sand and water, trees and plants.
“She’s looking forward to playing with other children in this lovely natural environment, rather than just watching them have fun from the side lines. She will be able to join in with creative and imaginative play and make new friends. All this would be difficult in a less inclusive space.”
Children will be able to immerse themselves in a nature-inspired setting which uses loose, textured and natural materials such as logs, rope and bark to blend in with the park’s landscape. Features include a basket swing, roundabout, and plenty of sand and water play. Play elements are positioned both at ground level and in raised channels of varying height, so that children with disabilities and able-bodied children can play together.
Graham Dear, Greenwich Park’s Manager, said: “Each year we welcome more than 400,000 visitors to our playground in historic Greenwich Park. And this fantastic, inclusive facility – built thanks to funding from The London Marathon Charitable Trust – has created additional space so even more children can play together outside.
“A high-quality playground like this offers youngsters an alternative to computer games, and a chance to let off steam, engage their imagination, and challenge themselves in active and creative play in a natural environment - boosting their physical and mental wellbeing.
“We hope this new facility will bring huge enjoyment for many generations to come.”
Sarah Ridley, Chief Grants Officer at The London Marathon Charitable Trust, said: “The London Marathon Charitable Trust is delighted to see the Greenwich Park Playground project and Play Programme come to life after having contributed a grant of £346,500. The Play Programme encourages imaginative and social play for children of all ages and abilities, with a focus on engaging the most disadvantaged local communities who may have limited access to green space.
“The Trust’s mission is to challenge inequality of access to physical activity by funding projects that help people to become and remain physically active regardless of age, gender, ability, race or background. We are thrilled to see local children and families enjoying the terrific new playground here today.”
The Royal Parks has also begun construction of a new playground in The Regent’s Park near Gloucester Gate. This is also being funded by The London Marathon Charitable Trust as part of its Play Strategy to increase the use of the Royal Parks by children for imaginative, physical and social play and learning. Completion of the Gloucester Gate playground is expected by the end of 2019.
For media enquiries contact The Royal Parks press office on 0300 061 2128 or firstname.lastname@example.org