Friday 31 October 2014

Stonebridge: So much more than just a playground

United in the battle to save Stonebridge Adventure Playground
The Kilburn Times is playing a gteat role in publicising and supporting the fight to save Stonebridge Adventure Playground. Unfortunately they have not had a Letters Page for several weeks so I print below a letter I sent them:

 It has been gratifying to see the Brent & Kilburn Times getting behind the local community's fight to save Stonebridge Adventure Playground.

I recently attended the Wembley Connects forum where we were invited to shape a vision for the improvement of the borough. One strong theme that emerged was the need for social spaces where our diverse population could meet, share common interests and learn about each other. It was argued that this  would help produce community cohesion and solidarity.

Stonebridge Adventure Playground is such a space where generations of children and their parents and carers have mixed and shared each others company in an area of disadvantage.  It was noteworthy that Doug and Glynis Lee's MBE nomination for their work on the playground was from grown up children who had helped them build it back in the 1970s.

By concentrating on bricks and mortar Brent Council is in danger of ignoring the role that such places play, not just in the obvious provision of play opportunities but in the way the play workers know generations of people in the area who used the Adventure Playground as children. They are well known in the community, have its respect and contribute positively to its stability. They provide a safe place where through the opportunity to play children children can become confident, independent and sociable. This largely invisible contribution to children's development can make a massive impact on children's future lives.

A local teacher posted this comment on my blog:

I used the adventure playground as a child. I remember bonfire nights, tuck shop, arts and crafts, movies, pool, arcades, table tennis and camping trips. I was welcomed to work there as a volunteer into my late teens which helped focus me toward my career in teaching. Ive been back to visit a number of times and am blown away to see children from all backgrounds, special needs and mainstream all playing together. It's currently ahead of its time.

Its heart breaking to know that there is enough money out there to supplement the money that it already raises for itself, to keep it open.
Shortsightedness must not prevail. Keep Stonebridge Adventure Playground open!!

Replacing the Adventure Playground with an unstaffed kickabout area next to the main road is tokenistic and insulting to the children of Stonebridge and Harlesden.

We need housing and we need school places but not at the expense of destroying something so valuable.

Brent Council must think again and come up with a solution that recognises the value of Stonebridge Adventure Playground and its work.

Martin Francis
Brent Play Association

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, this community cohesion and solidarity is all very well, Martin, but where's the profit in it, that's what I want to know?
You need to come up with an innovative vision and a sustainable business model. Charge the kids to come in, tell them that health and safety insists that they wear risk-appropriate protective garments, flog them helmets, knee pads and hi-vis tabards, sell advertising space on the equipment to junk-food brands, replace the play workers with G4S employees and get Boris to open this new 21st century Vapestick-sponsored Barclays Stonebridge Adventure Facility live on London Tonight.

There's no place for sentiment in a Modern Brent, Martin.