Merton children play it their way for national day

More than 450 children, young people and their families played to their hearts’ content this week at Merton’s celebration of National Playday 2010.

National Playday is the annual celebration of children’s right to play. The theme for this year’s National Playday was ‘Our Place’ which campaigned to support children to develop their own independence and freedom to play outdoors where they live.

Local celebrations took place at Merton’s Acacia Intergenerational Centre (IGC) and Lonesome Primary School playing fields on Wednesday 4 August and gave children from 0 to 14 the chance to enjoy a wide range of activities and play opportunities. Children also had the opportunity to have a look at the progress of the first Adventure Playground for children in Merton, which is part of the new Intergenerational Centre and due to open in early autumn.

The company that constructed Acacia IGC, Mansell, sponsored the event and ran carpentry workshops for the children. who assembled bird boxes and tables, and were proud of their carefully made constructions, which they got to take home.

A spider tower let children climb high into the sky, while others were spun around on fairground rides or bounced about on space hoppers and trampolines. Some children took to whizzing along on big scooters and trikes and down the giant inflatable slide, while street dance lessons helped others to get “into the groove”

Creativity was encouraged throughout the day with t-shirt design workshops, craft and painting. Fun Food Factory helped children make their own bread to take home and bake and Groundwork Merton took a nature quiz in the Acacia IGC garden. A travelling farm brought along baby goats, sheep, pigs and more.

Councillor Maxi Martin, cabinet member for children’s services said: “It was fantastic to see so many families come out to celebrate National Play Day at our very own, and Britain’s first, Intergenerational Centre.

“The atmosphere on the day was buzzing and with such a wide range of activities available, not a single child was left without something fun and new to try. Play is a vital part of a child’s development and this day was about giving an Merton’s children a day to play to their hearts’ content.”

Notes to editors:
A recent ICM survey commissioned by Play England found that 79% of adults believe community spirit has weakened since they were a child. 47% of adults think it is unsafe for children to play out without supervision, and one in three (37%) of parents are concerned they will be judged by their neighbours if they let their children play outdoors unsupervised.

But nearly three quarters of children (73%) say they would like to play out more where they live. Merton’s Playday 2010 celebration certainly showed that to be true, with hundreds of local children enjoying a great range of outdoor play opportunities.