Families enjoyed discovering some of Hackney’s free outdoor play spaces as part of a Playful Hackney weekend, from 18-20 March 2016. Hackney Play Association together with Outdoor People, a Hackney-based social enterprise, co-hosted the weekend as part of the Find Your London Festival, which celebrated London’s outdoor spaces, from gardens to parks, high streets to marketplaces. The Playful Hackney programme included:
Taste of adventure – special sessions at two of Hackney’s long-standing adventure playgrounds at Homerton Grove and Shakespeare Walk. Built on former bombsites, these playgrounds have been loved and cherished by generations of children. Youngsters enjoyed den building, gardening, cooking and toasting marshmallows around the fire, woodwork and daredevil swings and zip wires.
Hackney Play Director Nicola Butler said: “It was brilliant seeing lots of new families coming along – which is exactly what we were hoping for! Hackney is lucky to have seven adventure playgrounds spread across the borough, offering children fantastic opportunities to play freely, let off steam and make new friends.”
A walk on the wild side and a trip to the flicks – explorers young and old went on a ‘Wild Walk’ through Hackney’s urban backwaters, discovering some unexpected natural delights. Young explorer Aaron Handschuh, aged 6, said the best bit was ”All of it”, whilst his 4-year-old brother Liam Handschuh liked, “Seeing the graffiti and the woods”.
There was also a special free film screening of Project Wild Thing, an award winning documentary about one man’s journey to understand why his daughter – and all children – don’t play outdoors and what we can do about it. Outdoor People founder Cath Prisk, said: “It was great to screen this fantastic film at Homerton Adventure Playground, where we had around 30 children and families coming to watch it, discuss how to get kids playing outdoors more, and afterwards we all played in the playground in the dark!”
Taking play to the streets – with over 40 play streets spread across the borough, Hackney is indisputably the play street capital of London! Residents, several schools, a church and a children’s centre take part, opening up their streets regularly for play and community.
On this special weekend, one of Hackney’s longest running play streets Winston Road in Stoke Newington, invited families from across London to join in the skipping and scooting action. Hackney Play Association provides free support to help residents and schools start up play streets, and Hackney Council and Play England fund the project. Please find more information on how to start a play street here.