RAY Ceredigion, letting children play

When Gill from RAY Ceredigion contacted me I was not overly hopeful that EW could help them, play is not our field. However it can be hard to judge over the phone if a group is right for EW so I agreed to meet up to discuss the two projects she hoped we could feed into.

Project one is to develop innovative outdoor play areas around Ceredigion using landscaping of natural features and natural play items such as fallen trees. Gill has done so much research into this project, which has been funded by the Lottery and RDP, that she is now obviously quite an expert on all aspects of innovative play spaces. Her research included visits to Sterling and Plymouth to see the excellent projects that have taken place there. As she explained their work to me it became clear how well this work, even when in urban environments, fitted with what the National Trust is trying to do to promote the need for children to have contact with nature. In this case nature may well be a fallen tree that has been adapted, logs, large boulders, a grassy slope or even more manufactured items such wooden blocks and climbing frames. In addition she talked to me about hedges and dens, rough grassy areas and even trees to climb. I learnt how in Europe play is not limited to specific areas but forms part of the design of estates with play opportunities along the way. She told me of their work with Cantref Housing Association at their eco estate to design play areas that complement the natural spaces. By the time she had finished I felt I must find ways to help with this project. Getting our children outside is the first step in getting them to love and appreciate the natural environment and getting them to use natural materials as their chosen play medium must also help. I was so impressed at how they were consulting communities and ensuring that the work they will be undertaking in 18 villages in Ceredigion would be sustainable in the long term through their application process. I really felt this is an organisation that makes thorough and extensive plans to ensure success. In the end it seemed that most likely we could help some of the groups they are supporting with some added value to their projects around planting for wildlife, fruit trees etc so I look forward to hearing directly from those groups in the near future.

 With project two it was easier to see how we could work directly with RAY as they are developing a scrap store which will be using volunteers to design and produce packs that allow others to make art items from scraps. They had a tray of what looked like lavender bags but were actually little kits that had everything you needed to make a Christmas tree angel. By designing and marketing kits they are adding value to the end product ensuring it will be a cherished item and not consigned to landfill a fortnight later. EW has supported scrap stores in the past so I could be fairly certain there would be some aspects of what seemed to me a very innovative project that we will be able to help them with so we are going to work on the project registration very soon.

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