Play on! Adventure playgrounds return and it’s all hands on deck

Written by Luke Brown, BIG Alliance Project Manager, and Diora Emechete, ELBA Team Challenge Project Manager.

Wednesday 5th August marks Playday, the national celebration day for play and a campaign that highlights the importance of play in children’s lives. In normal times, Playday would see children, young people and communities coming together outdoors to play at hundreds of community events across the UK. Understandably, this year’s Playday will look a little different with families encouraged to celebrate children’s right to play at home.

The key benefits of play cannot be understated, with many studies and organisations recognising the positive impact on children’s self-esteem, physical and mental health, social skills, resilience and creativity (to name just a few). There is arguably no better place to reap these rewards and strengthen these skills than an adventure playground.

For many children across east London and Islington, particularly those from low-income families without a garden at home, adventure playgrounds provide some of the best experiences to play freely — with zipwires, climbing walls, rope bridges, and the opportunity to build dens and forts. These playgrounds find the balance between providing a safe environment to play while allowing children’s creativity and imaginations to run wild.

Drumming up support for adventure playgrounds

Lockdown has been tough for the hundreds of children who usually attend the playgrounds. Many sites have only recently reopened with reduced offers and limited capacity due to the necessary protective measures needed. Despite the lower numbers, the playgrounds will still see plenty of use and come the end of summer, they are going to need a lot of TLC to keep them safe and looking their best.

That’s why this Playday, ELBA and BIG Alliance are calling on corporate volunteer teams to reassemble and continue their support for adventure playgrounds. Many of the sites we work with across east London and Islington are now open to taking volunteer teams from September onwards. Teams can be up to 6 people as per government guidelines and the appropriate risk assessments will be in place. Volunteer teams can make a huge difference in a day, achieving things that would otherwise take playground staff weeks, or even months, to achieve.

Lucy Benson, Head of Adventure Play for Islington Play Association, is keen to emphasise this point:

We massively appreciate the work that corporate volunteer teams bring to the children’s adventure playgrounds. For many years teams have come to us and thrown themselves wholeheartedly into the physical work of painting, wheelbarrowing, gardening, tidying and much more. Our services are free and we serve some of the UK’s most disadvantaged children. The corporate volunteer teams help to keep the playgrounds safe and happy.

Are you interested in organising a team challenge at an adventure playground in east London or Islington? Email

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