How children thrive on natural play

Jo Stephenson
Monday, May 26, 2014

Kilburn Grange Adventure Playground offers stimulating play opportunities to children and young people.

Kingsgate Community Association runs a range of exciting and creative activities at Kilburn Grange Adventure Playground
Kingsgate Community Association runs a range of exciting and creative activities at Kilburn Grange Adventure Playground


Kilburn Grange Adventure Playground


The playground was built with a slice of £2.7m in Play Pathfinders cash awarded to Camden Council


Kilburn Grange Adventure Playground opened in a blaze of publicity in 2010 as part of the then government's Play Pathfinders scheme, playing host to supervised play sessions and holiday schemes. However, these sessions ceased when the council's play service fell victim to cuts. The play service was re-commissioned from the voluntary sector from September 2012 and now a local charity has taken over the adjoining play centre - the play hut - and is exploring new ways to make the most of the playground.


The playground, which has won design awards, features a tree-level climbing structure with slides and a rope swing. It also includes a ravine with a sandpit and a climbing net. Designed for children aged eight to 13, the playground is open access at Kilburn Grange Park.

Kingsgate Community Association runs the play hut and last summer hosted a 12-day play scheme working with London Play to use the playground for a range of natural play activities including treehouse-building, wicker work, whittling and making charcoal. Children had the chance to use knives, drills, hammers and saws, explains Donna Liburd, centre director of Kingsgate Community Centre. "They learn how to deal with risk. It makes them more self-sufficient and gives them confidence," she says.

The association is negotiating with the council about use of the playground and the possibility of running supervised play sessions that will feature more natural play activities. This will include extending the playspace's opening hours and could involve opening it up to schools as a green classroom.

Another plan is to run "glamping" sessions where young people get to camp in the playground, benefiting from facilities at the hut. "It has fantastic facilities for kids with disabilities including a wet room and changing bed," says Liburd.


More than 40 children aged eight to 14 attended the summer play scheme last year - many from families where parents were not in work. Most children score the scheme 10 out of 10 in feedback questionnaires. When asked for their highlights common responses included "playing with friends" and "having fun". Parents said the activities were "excellent".

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