The Children's Play Area, Butetown School, Cardiff


Have you seen the exciting new play space when you have visited Butetown recently? It has something for every child: the ‘telly tubby’ mounds include sand and water play, gardening equipment, ants observation kits, bug hunting equipment, bicycles, tricycles, trains and go-carts.


There are hilly pathways with different textures and cambers to challenge the children and an area left for plants and grasses to attract insects and benefit the environment.


This exciting new development belongs to St Mary the Virgin Church in Wales Primary School situated in the Butetown area of Cardiff. The head teacher there, Mrs. Bowman, and Mrs. Bird (Sure Start) saw the need for a safe Community Play area and the opportunity to designate an under used area of the School grounds for this purpose. Butetown's diverse community is represented in the Somali, African, Yemenis and Chinese pupils at the school


The project began in 2003 when a steering group was developed which included Sure start, Home start, Cardiff County Council, Butetown & Grangetown Healthy Living Programme and number of local parents.They all went to visit a Community play area in Bridgewater to get ideas for what they might do.


The pupils created designs as part of their School course work and a landscape designer employed by the Healthy Living Programme worked with the School to develop the play area.School fundraising events included, tree planting, sponsored silence and a procession that was part of National gardening week which took place in June 2005.


The eagerly anticipated opening was well attended and included the oldest and youngest residents and a past pupil of the school who said “In the past Butetown was so open and accessible - now there are luxury flats all over, so green space has become ever more important. Now this lovely area has been developed as a play space there is less chance of it being sold off for luxury flats”.

The Healthy Living Programme was pleased to support this project which offers many health benefits for the children and wider community of Butetown: sustainable outdoor learning environment for children & young people to explore nature, opportunities for healthy exercise, enhanced community participation, growing of fresh vegetables, a challenging and stimulating environment for children to learn, as well as a safe area to play and develop friendships.


Though the Play area is within the School grounds it has been made accessible to the Tabouck Muslim School and the Greek orthodox church School which are situated close to the area.


Mrs. Bowman added, "The area will be used to support the new foundation stage for primary school children and will be available for many local schools as well as the local council’s summer holiday play schemes. We hope it will promote social inclusion by being free and easily available".

Funding for the project came from Cymorth funding to fence the area, initial tree planting from the Barefoot project, and the Healthy Living programme. Two HLP development officers took the lead on an Enfys lottery foundation application for £25, 000, and £3000 from Voluntary Action Cardiff enabled the project to reach fruition.


Future


The School is very keen to develop the garden to include a seating area for the adults, and adventure play area and to enable it to bemaintained by the local volunteers. The School would like to see more public access to the garden and particularly other local schools to be able to benefit from it.


This play area will be available to be booked for public use from 2006, and there are plans to employ a caretaker.

Contacts:
Mrs. Bowman St Mary the Virgin Church in Wales School
Email: schooladmin@stmarythevirgin.prm.cardiff.sch.uk
Tell: 02920 20481608
Fax : 02920451239
Local Health Board Healthy Living Program Cardiff CF10 4AL
Tell : 02920444410
Fax : 02920495657
Helena.Jones@nphs.uk Tel: 029 20444410
Other bodies involved, ENFYS, Sure Start, Home Start, Cardiff County Council and many local parents.