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Play Pathfinder Adventure Playground

After a review of the Play Pathfinder funding the minister Michael Gove of the DFE has cut 38% from the Play Pathfinder budget and returned the remaining capital to Cornwall Council unringfenced. The return of the capital is seen as a considerable triumph in these difficult times and follows a national outcry against the loss of funding for hundreds of similar play projects. Cornwall Council has taken the view that the Adventure Playground project which has been extensively supported by local people, councillors, and MP's, will be of great benefit to the local community and act as hub and a stimulus to play across Cornwall.  However, due to the five month delay and the reduced funding the scope of the project has had to be much reduced and the planned play equipment and play features will have to be delayed until further funding can be found. 

A community group called Friends of Gweal an Top has now been constituted and held its first Annual General meeting on 1 March.  The Group will take over the running of the site as an Adventure Playground with the support of Redruth Town Council.This group is still seeking members and will be looking for volunteers for a wide range of tasks from committee work, painting and decorating to training to become a volunteer play worker alongside qualified workers who will supervise the site when it opens. 

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It is intended that the old school building will also be available for a range of other community uses.

Gweal an Top old school in Redruth was unanimously granted planning permission to become Cornwall's first and only adventure playground on 13th April 2010 at the West Area Planning Committee.

The Adventure Playground’s main opening hours will be after school until around 7.30pm and on Saturdays and school holidays.  It will be free to enter and the site will be staffed to ensure children can play freely but have the security of adult supervision.  Children over the age of 8 will be able to visit the site on their own but younger children must be accompanied by an adult. 

Children will be encouraged to make their own fun such as building dens and tree houses using scrap materials and simple tools, learning to ride bikes, playing ball games or even toasting marshmallows round the camp fire.

“It will be very much like many of us remember the best days of our own childhood play.” said Jo Howard, Project Manager “ Many parents are afraid to allow their children to play out these days so that children have become less free and less self reliant for their fun and more likely to play indoors”.  Children who do play outside are often criticised and this can drive them indoors; “We were playing in my close and we got told off for laughing loudly” said one local child; “We were playing footy on my road and a man told us off for being too loud when it was 3pm” said another. 

Play England has produced a Manifesto for Children's’ Play which quotes the statistic that 71% of adults used to play near their home everyday when they were children, but only 21% of today’s children do.

Trees and bushes on the site will be kept but additional planting will be used to create more natural play and wild life areas. There will be a fire pit on the edge of the field where the children can sit and even cook over an open fire which can be tended by them but will be supervised by staff. 

Adventure Playground history shows how Cornwall's first adventure playground is intended to bring about better play opportunities for all children in Cornwall.  It has excellent public transport connections and Schools and community groups from across Cornwall will be able to book time at the site outside normal opening hours (although there are restrictions on using the site after 9pm). 

The site will become a centre for innovation, natural and adventurous play providing training to stimulate ever more opportunities for children in all areas of Cornwall. 

An example of this is the Adventure Play Skills training which was held in February 2010 which trained 20 workers and volunteers to engage children in creating their own local play spaces.

The photo on the right shows the cob oven the trainees made.

For a location map please see Cornwall Council online mapping.

As well as receiving monies for the Adventure Playground, Cornwall also received £1.4 million capital funding to complete 28 new or improved play sites across Cornwall through the playbuilder project.

If you would like any further information please contact the Project team on 01209 611767.