We are happy to announce that we have begun to build a new play area in collaboration with Tony Gee. This particular project will take place in the hometown of our partners - Birmingham, more precisely, in its inner-city borough of Ladywood.
Rich in history, Ladywood is famous for the community spirit that its locals share. Unfortunately, it is also famous for being one of the most deprived wards in the UK. Many locals are struggling to manage the rising rent prices, and meeting their basic human needs has become increasingly hard.
It is easy to imagine that under these conditions, issues such as access to play do not come to mind as a basic need. However, article 31 in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child has the right to play. The Right for all children to play was added as a response to the increasing urbanisation of the cities, and the disappearance of recreational areas as they are forced to give way to new developments. This is exactly what happened to Ladywood.
Undoubtedly, this year put more pressure on the matter. A study by the Great Ormond Hospital draws attention to the detrimental behaviour changes that children of early school age are experiencing following months of isolation. Among those are an increasing number of fights, unwillingness to share, and a worrying drop in fitness levels, all of which would typically be addressed through outdoor play. For adults, this pandemic was a serious inconvenience, but for some children it is a loss of a major part in their childhood that they will never claim back. The effects could be seen long into the future.
To reverse this, childcare activists are now calling for a Summer of Play - a time to draw policymakers attention to child's play, to encourage more kids to go outside, and to promote play in whichever way we can.
Tony Gee and Dream Networks are responding to this call by starting a new project with St John’s and St Peter’s Academy in Ladywood. Following our co-design Love Plays Program, children were able to design their dream play areas. Tony Gee volunteers helped them to express their vision during STEM workshops. In April 2021, we moved to the second stage of the program, as we dug the first holes in the courtyard of the school. Soon, it will be a sustainable, co-designed, fun and safe area where children of Ladywood will be able to experience the joys of play. During a visit to the building site last week, one 10 year old told us that he was most excited about 'the chill-out area where I can just sit down and seek with each other, its fun, we don't always have to do active things'
The mission of our social enterprise is to eradicate play inequality and collaboratively provide play4all. We do this by building creative play areas in marginalised communities, involving the local schools and community members in the process. If your business would like to help us do this, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at [email protected].
To track the progress of the build, follow Dream Networks on twitter, where our team will post updates of the build.
'I am most excited about the chill-out area where I can just sit down and seek with each other, its fun, we don't always have to do active things'