As this project draws to an end, I have asked the Playworkers to talk to the children and the parents about how they feel about the playing that has developed on the spaces over the last three years.

Here Hannah recalls for us some of the last days of playing on the sites where  we have become a part of the scenery and hope that playing children will continue to be a familiar sight.

 

Tuesday 28th June 2011

As usual this was a busy sessions with lots of families stopping by on their way home from school to let the children play for a while. We played chase and games with the hammock. One girl, who has now been coming for several weeks, came and hugged Habiba, telling her “you guys are my friends now”. These sessions are coming to a close now and we’re really going to miss the children here, having built strong bonds talking and playing together over time. Several of the children confide things in us that they say they can’t talk about with their parents, for example, their frustrations about Arabic school.

 

Wednesday 29th June 2011

We had a busy session this afternoon. Lots of kids came out when they saw us arrive and we played running games and did some painting. One of the parents brought out an inflatable paddling pool for the kids to play in and a group of children sat round pretending it was a cauldron and they were mixing spells. Some of the little children took water from it to water the plants and herbs their parents were growing in a grow box in the square. Meanwhile around the edges some of the older kids got on with games of football and riding their bikes.

 

Some parents came and chatted to Inga about how much their kids love coming out to our play sessions. One of the mums from our Thursday session has started walking her two young children to this session too and said she was really happy to give them an extra chance to play. When they first started coming on Thursdays they were very shy and found it hard to mix with other children, today they were running races happily with another brother and sister and joining in so much more than before.

 

Thursday 30th June 2011

Today was fantastic, two girls came in and announced they wanted to do another treasure hunt like we did last week. They spent ages making and wrapping bracelets to have as prizes and planning clues, working on little poems to make the clues rhyme. The treasure hunt made them really look at the space in detail and they seemed to take a kind of ownership in it as a result. Some other kids came along and took part in their treasure hunt, then made one for them and by the end of the session it seemed pretty much everyone had made a hunt for everyone else!

 

Over at one of the outside squares, Inga and Lavly played chase and dressing up games with some young children.  They took the small tent out which became part of some imaginative play, a small boy made it his ‘cookie shop’!

 

There’s some underlying racial tension on this estate which we sometimes see reaching into the ways the children of white and Asian families interact with each other but when a game is exciting enough it seems to over-ride this and they come more together. We saw this with the treasure hunts today and last week when everyone got involved in a chaotic game of running and catching 2 balls.

 

Sat 2nd July 2011

Its been a great play session today. As usual our regular kids were waiting for us at the square when we arrived. A couple of them grinned and pounced on the play trolley- “you always bring good stuff”! They took out beads to make jewellery, paper, fabric and the badminton rackets. 1 girl dragged Habiba over to the swing wanting to swing while they chatted and another began a badminton rally with Inga, we’ve seen the kids improve a lot at this over the last few weeks since we began bringing the rackets.

 

One girl took some paper and began creating patterns on it by gluing other bright pieces of paper as well as sequins and beads, it was really creative. She’s told me she wants to be an artist but her parents don’t encourage it as they want her to get a well-paid job when she leaves school! We try and give her as many opportunities as possible to make stuff. I often get the sense that the kids enjoy the freedom of what we do, we don’t organise an activity that everyone has to do but provide materials and encourage them to do their own thing, and we’re often surprised by the results! This girl in particular has created all kinds of things from a large woven paper ‘rug’ to decorations for the trees!

 

The second square began quietly with a few girls coming out to join us. They made bracelets and glued sequins in patterns to a patch of wall. More kids came out to join us and the session became really lively. Several families of children came, the older children in charge of the younger ones, the youngest wasn’t even two but got involved in using the chalks and running round to see what the older kids were playing! The sessions at this square in particular always seem to fly and end with the kids begging us to stay longer. We invite them to come to the next square but many of them are not allowed to go beyond where their parents can see them from a window.

 

One girl who comes every week to play and chat to us told me “I’m really going to miss you lot after the summer and all the laughing we do”! Like several of the other girls she is only allowed out to play there when we come, we always encourage the kids to come out and play when we’re not there too but for several of them they’re simply not allowed, their parents don’t trust that its safe.

 

The final square got really busy soon after we arrived, all kinds of games took place from craft making to turning the climbing frame into a ‘palace’ you had to climb into from one side and out of via a special route onto a pile of fabric. The same kids come week after week here. I asked one boy if he usually came and played here anyway but he told me he mostly just came on Saturdays when we came because our games brought lots of people outside together at the same time and he had more friends to play with!

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