East London playground wins award as charity calls for proper funding for parks

An east London playground has won new equipment and a £500 prize after winning this year's London Adventure Playground of the Year Award, with award organisers London Play among the many individuals and organisations which have called for parks to be made a statutory duty.

Roman Road Adventure Playground users made up a song to win the prize
Roman Road Adventure Playground users made up a song to win the prize

The charity, whose patrons are Simon Hughes MP, Lord Smith of Finsbury, Jon Snow, Stephen Studd and Polly Toynbee, submitted evidence to the current Communities and Local Government Committee parks inquiry, pointing out the importance of play to children and of parks to play. It recommended their provision be made a statutory duty "with adequate funding" to maintain them.

It said play was the biggest reason for visits to public parks and children and their familes are the most affected by parks budget cuts.

"Play is crucial to children’s physical, emotional, social and mental health and development – and is a right enshrined under article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. So any reduction in the number or quality of parks will contravene the rights and wellbeing of our youngest citizens," it continued.

The Roman Road Adventure Playground in Bow, East London won the prize after children sang a song on video to show how much it meant to them, at an event held today in Prince Charles Cinema in central London. It was the first adventure playground to be built by a housing association in England and was developed as a partnership project between Old Ford Housing Association and Tower Hamlets Local Authority in 2010. 

Judges said: "Roman Road is clearly important to these children and the lyrics of their song sum up the spirit of adventure play perfectly." The playground won a new structure, which will be designed and built by APEs Adventure Playground Engineers and £500 worth of free materials.

Maizie, aged nine said about Roman Road: "I like to play on the slide, swing and to see my friends." Francis added: This is the best adventure playground... we have chocolate toast."

White City Adventure Playground won London’s Coolest Place to Play with it a £500 cash prize for playground improvements. Croydon’s Love Lane was named Play Street of the Year and Southwark’s Bethwin Road Adventure Playground took the Flick ‘n’ Snap award for a very slick film incorporating footage from a drone.  Kender School in Lewisham won the ‘best adventure play in a school’ award. Shiremoor Adventure Playground in Tyne and Wear won the inaugural ‘Beyond London’ Award.

Around 200 children from adventure playgrounds, play streets and schools across London attended the event, where they saw films they helped make about their play spaces.

Chair of London Play Melian Mansfield said: "With a quarter of London’s children living in overcrowded homes and one in five overweight or obese, space and opportunity to play is vital. Playgrounds like Roman Road and White City are doing a fantastic job with few resources – we hope that these awards make more people understand how valuable these places are and act to protect them."

She said Lambeth and Enfield councils had both closed playgrounds in recent months. 

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