Many of us think of adventure playgrounds as play areas with fixed wooden play equipment. A true adventure playground is much more than this, it is an open access setting staffed by trained playworkers, where children can find materials and support so that they can build and adapt their own play space to suit their own needs.
It is a rich play environment that compensates for today's lack of accessible natural space where children can play independently of adults.
An adventure playground is a place where children can build dens or treehouses, make campfires, dig gardens, stage water fights, play in the mud and rain. It is a place that children should be able to call their own - where they can direct their own play, be spontaneous, loud, dirty, messy, silly, and where they can test themselves out against their environment and other people.
It is an inclusive place where children can play and socialise with others on their own terms and follow their own agenda. There is an ethos of participation and self-help; children are involved in decision making and planning and are supported to follow their own initiative. Rules are kept to a minimum - a long list can be overwhelming and prohibitive ... and easily forgotten.
It is a place where children can confront and learn to manage risk. Children can experiment, push boundaries, innovate, build and demolish in the knowledge that there are trained playworkers on hand to support them if necessary.
Adventure playgrounds provide outdoor space and playworkers - they do not necessarily have buildings or permanent structures. The ethos of the adventure playground can be used across a range of play provision - from out of school clubs to playschemes and play ranger services. For instance it might not be appropriate to have a fixed site in a rural area with a sparse population where children's independent travel is compromised, but it might be possible for playworkers to regularly visit a number of sites to support the principles of the adventure playground at a local level in an available space.
More information about the history of adventure play
Adventure Playground Development
The Welsh Government supports the development of adventure playgrounds throughout Wales, both through its Integrated Children's Centre initiative and in its Play Policy Implementation Plan.
Successful adventure playgrounds grow slowly with the involvement of the whole community - children and adults - through consultation, information sharing and seeking the active involvement of all local people.
An adventure playground is an inclusive space, children and their play and social needs are the reason for the playground's existence so they need to be involved from the very start - no matter what their record of behaviour or what impairment or need they may come with. It is vital that there is a sense of belonging and ownership.
Adventure Playgrounds in Wales
Rhyl Adventure Playground
Rhydwen Close Playing Fields
Telephone - 01745 344751
Telephone - 01978 355761
Gwenfro Valley ICC
C/O Caia Park Communities First
Wrexham LL13 8TN
Telephone - 01978 264994
C/O Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham (AVOW)
21 Egerton Street
Wrexham LL11 1ND
Telephone - 01978 312556