The sight of the new wooden play structure rising above the Adventure Playground enlivens the whole of Barnard Park. While small steps to improve the park are good, the arrival of the towering pathways is changing the atmosphere of the entire park. The renovated play area is going to be an amazing space for kids who will be able to explore its new walkways, climbing ropes and a big new structure called “The Bird Nest.” The playground is planning a community day in the near future to involve everyone to make finishing touches. At this time, the space will partially re-open to children. There will be a grand opening celebration in spring, when the massive structure will be ready for play. It will be a great day for local children.
The whole project has relied on the resolve and creativity of the Adventure Playground staff and management. On the back of a £50,000 Playbuilder grant – which was delayed and almost denied to the site – the playground folk surmounted many obstacles, including the loss of its intended playground specialist to mount this ambitious project. There have been some complaints that it has taken too long or that not enough community labour was involved, but Skevos Loizou, Area Service Manager, Young People’s Division, is proud of the work. Adventure playgrounds have an ethos of self-build, but times have changed since 1989 when Skevos managed another play structure renewal at the site. New health and safety regulations must now be observed. Fortunately, staff are able to work along side playground-equipment-maker Huck, so DIY efforts have been backed by professional expertise. And know-how is definitely needed: some 80 telegraph poles anchor the sprawling structure.
However, when the new structure opens, there will still be hands-on tasks for the young people to undertake. The children will be involved in a project to put up new swings. Such playgrounds are by nature a continuous process. “The building work at an adventure playground is never complete,” says Skevos. Existing areas will evolve. And, of course, there is always the ongoing maintenance of the large structures. So there will be future projects on the go for kids, staff and volunteers in this ever-changing play space.