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good for families and communities more broadly. Government is committed to supporting local people to have an active role in shaping the play opportunities that they care so much about.’ – Michael Gove, 2010.

‘GNP does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play….it measures everything in life…except that which makes life worthwhile.’ – Ed Miliband, 2009.

In the last century David Lloyd George stated that “play is a child’s first claim on community” (1926), and play gained wider recognition under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in which Article 31 enshrines the child’s right to play

Increasingly sedentary lifestyles, a ‘cotton-wool’ culture and a lack of accessible, exciting playgrounds has slowly led to a dramatic reduction in the

amount of time children play outdoors and, more shockingly, play has been devalued in our society. Numerous studies have made a significant link between the alarming rise in cases of childhood obesity and lack of exercise. Childhood obesity is a legitimate national health care issue and costs the country around £2 billion annually and shortens lives by an estimated nine years, due to the associated health problems. Some health experts even believe we’ll soon see parents outliving their children!

Where provision of children’s play areas has been successfully embraced by communities, a picture of change in the lives of the children and communities begins to emerge. One example, from a community in Halifax, triggered a fundraising focus to renovate a tired ball court that had been in place in James Street since the 1960’s (see panel, right).

Calderdale Council and the Elland & District Partnership (EDP) identified the need for the James Street renovation following complaints from residents about anti-social behaviour, litter and rubbish, and the poor condition of the existing play equipment that was known locally as “the doss”. In response, EDP has installed a new MUGA (Multi Use Games Area) sympathetic to the local environment and residents.

Community Consultation The consultation process involved members of the EDP arranging door- to-door visits, school surveys and open EDP meetings. Children and young people all stated that whilst they did not use the current run-down ball court they would use an upgraded facility. The EDP wanted the project to build community spirit by involving local children and residents in all aspects of the redevelopment. They wanted to provide a place for families to meet, and for children and young people to have fun in the heart of their community.

What a result!

Joe Braithwaite, Chairman of the EDP comments; “We’re delighted with the new ballcourt and the response from the local community. Just to see children and young people of all ages playing on it together shows how much the community needed this.” Mick Wilby, Playgrounds Manager from Calderdale Council comments; “EDP is one of the most vibrant community groups that I work with; it really is testament to them that the James Street project progressed and is proving to be so successful. “It was clear from early on in the tender process that the MUGA was perfect for James Street. Its unique sound insulation system was ideal for the area due to its close proximity to housing, and I’m sure our planning and environment office would fully support the project as it meets the current standards on sound. “We’ve received no complaints from the local community throughout the whole process highlighting just how much the community has embraced the project.”


With the support of Calderdale Council, the EDP which includes continued on page 11

8 API Directory 2011/12


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