PLAYWORK

 »...play is essential part of every child's life and vital to the process of human development. It provides the mechanism for children to explore the world around them and the medium through which skills are developed and practised. It is essential for physical, emotional and spiritual growth, intellectual and educational development, and acquiring social and behaviourial skills.«
Playlink, (1997). Risk and Safety in Play. The law and practice for adventure playgrounds. United Kingdom: Routledge, 3.
 ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND


An adventure playground is defined as an enclosed play area, supervised by playworkers, which is not accessible to children when not supervised. The best play provision aims to offer children access to the widest possible range of experience in a setting free from unacceptable risk. Adventure playgrounds are specifically designed to meet children's play needs in this way. They allow the children to explore, manipulate, directly experience and affect their own enviroment and manage an acceptable level of risk without coming to harm, as well as to experience the pure pleasure of play. Within the adventure playground setting, it is possible to offer opportunities for creativity and imagination where the emphasis is always on the child's choice and control over their own experience.


A BRIEF HISTORY


»The Danish Landscape Architect, Professor Sorensen, was the first to propose the establishment of adventure playgrounds. He spoke of the need for enviroments, 'sort of junk playgorunds... in which children could create, shape, dream and imagine'. The first facility to take up the ideas of Professor Sorensen was opened in Emdrup, Copenhagen in 1943.


In the same year, a survey in Britain noted the popularity among children of bomb sites as play areas.


After a visit to Emdrup by Lady Allen of Hurtwood in 1946 the conpect of 'junk playgrounds' became reality in London, when in 1948 the first public example was opened by the Voluntary Organisation of Camberwell. Many other voluntarily run projects followed. The term 'adventure playground' was coined to describe facilities.


In 1954, the National Playing Fields Association provided capital for two new playgorunds, one in Liverpool and one in London, which were very successful until their closure in 1960.


In the 1970s and early 1980s, many adventure playgorunds were established and run successfuly in both rural and urban areas around the country with significant concentrations in centres such as Bristol and Newcastle as well as London.«



Playlink, (1997). Risk and Safety in Play. The law and practice for adventure playgrounds. United Kingdom: Routledge, 5.



The concept of adventure playgrounds spreaded to other European countires. In 1950s and 1960s in Switzerland and Germany they started with establishing their own adventure playgrounds. Today we can find hundreds of adventure playgorunds around Europe, around 400 in Germany, more than 600 in Britain, ...



ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND – DOŽI IN MARIBOR, SLOVENIA


Since 2001 we are participating and cooperating with european playwork association in international play work seminars, conferences and study visits and were encouraged to develop, for Slovenia new approach in working with children, young people and local communities focused on ‘play work’. 


While we started the procedures to gain the land for the first adventure playgound in Slovenia in 2004, we also began with first 'play sessions' in local community where adventure playground will be and with 'play days' in local communities around Slovenia, especially in socialy, economicaly, geographicaly deprived areas and where play options for children are limited.


For the promotion and developmnent of play work in south and east Europe, we are honoured, that we were invited as a host organization of e.p.a. (european playwork association) congress in Maribor, Slovenia in 2006, 'Connecting communities playfuly'. Congress was very successful, with the participation of 60 play, youth and community workers from almost 30 countries from Europe, Africa, South America, Lebanon and Palestine.


In January 2007, after three years of hard work, we succeeded in gaining a piece of land from the City council of Maribor to build the first adventure playground in Slovenia. All our energies are now focused in finishing building and opening adventure playground and also to promote play work in the region. With support of our dearest international partners -  play and youth workers from all over the Europe - we would like to work out and show HOW PLAY WORKS in Slovenia!!!



ABOUT PLAY


Play is a natural instinct / desire that all to often is taken for granted by adults in society, its something that you do in your childhood. Yet the places, the choices and the opportunities are changing as society and lifes priorities are becoming increasingly pressurised.



Play doesn’t belong to adults its not something that you can touch, hold or control but a free choice that belongs in the imagination of the child. Play itself is a free spirit that enables the child to explore, grow and develop in their environment at their own pace and time in a place of their own choosing and with their friends.



The Play worker as an advocate/friend /supporter for free play, enables children choice/access to a play space in a environment that offers a richness of diversity, challenges and risk that creates a stimulating opportunity for them to engage with in their own time and space. It is this interaction by the child that all to easily can be diluted and the play process fractured by adults who fail to understand the whole picture, play needs to be free and accessible.




All to easily it can become a memory, viewed through rose tinted glass’s allied with the excuse ‘well it was different then you couldn’t possibly do that now, its not safe’. In a recent survey in England, 50% of adults surveyed believed that children/young people shouldn’t be allowed out on their own until they were at least 14 years old! So beware this attitude could be coming to a community near you or has it already arrived?



Open access play: The opportunity for children to choose, When, Where and with Whom they play its not a unreasonable request until you begin to look at the factors stacked up against the reality for children to access free play spaces within their neighbourhoods/communities.



Every child has the Right to Play but this is directly linked to the ability to access/walk to a local play resource/space in their community.



The term open access play normally refers to staffed play facilities/projects ranging from play days, playschemes, adventure playgrounds, mobile play projects etc; where the playworkers role is to provide a environment and atmosphere that facilitates child centred non directive play.



The key to a successful project is were the children and young people can develop/grow at their own pace and be able to try/experience a multitude of play experiences that enables them to have freedom, use their imagination and have adventures in a exploration of discovery. This will allow them to feel secure with their friends, have fun, gain confidence and feel good about their own abilities and capabilities. Fundamental to this is choice to come and go in the knowledge that this is their space within their community.


Contact: Nina