The Wyndham Play Space Strategy will provide strategic direction for its Play Space development and programming of play space renewals to 2030 with a view to 2045, inline with Council's recently completed Open Space Strategy.
What the project will do
The Play Space Strategy will develop a clear vision and principles for play spaces in Wyndham. It will consider issues such as:
- Changing demographics
- Activity levels
- Place making
- Age appropriateness
- Diversity of play provisions
The community will have the opportunity to provide comment and feedback throughout its development. The strategy will establish a hierarchy, benchmarks, guidelines and a methodology for assessing play spaces. The strategy will promote the importance of play and the need for accessible local play space opportunities.
This study and play
This study focuses on the outdoor spaces that Wyndham City has provided specifically for play.
These will be largely spaces with some play equipment or open space suitable for informal sports, and they may be in “active” open space (sports parks), “passive” open space (parks) or in drainage ways for example.
This strategy will consider the play needs of children as well as teenagers, adults, family members and carers.
It will also consider outdoor fitness equipment and social sporting facilities, such as basketball courts in parks that support play.
Council is progressing towards the public release of the Issues & Opportunities paper. Following on from that, a draft Play Space Strategy will be developed and then released for public review prior to adoption of the strategy by Council.
If you wish to be notified of when the Issues & Opportunities paper and draft Play Space Strategy are available for review and comment, send you details to email@example.com.
What is "Play"
Play is a spontaneous, free, self-generating, fun, exploratory, and intrinsically motivated activity.
Play is a medium for self-expression and interaction, and it helps with the development of well-balanced happy individuals who can respond to change.
It contributes to the mastery of life skills, the development of communication and social skills, and other qualities valued by society, such as problem solving, independence and self-awareness, creativity, and spatial knowledge.
Play encourages social interaction and the development of relationships, negotiation, conflict resolution, sharing, self-discipline and the tolerance of others. Children can build relationships, learn to resolve conflicts, negotiate through play.
Council provides play spaces and encourages playgroup activities because they provide multiple benefits to the individual, the family and the broader community.
Play is often categorised as physical, social or dramatic, creative /cognitive or imaginative.
Playing can be important as a stress release, and can assist in a person's well-being.
Play is prevalent in younger people and it differs from recreation in that players may not have an end or goal in mind.
Play does not only occur in children, in fact, play spaces need to accommodate a range of age groups. However play is most important to children as it can contribute to the development of values, skills and experiences on which they may depend, later in life - including the development of the brain, healthy activity and patterns of behaviour, as well as an improved potential for learning later in life.
Children who have had rich play experiences are more likely to have well-developed memory, language, resilience, and the capacity for innovation.
Typically different types of play experiences are attractive to different age groups. Play spaces need to be designed to reflect the needs of preschool children, early primary and late primary school children and then teenagers, as well as family members or carers.
Risk & Challenge
Characteristics common to all motivating learning environments include challenge, curiosity, fantasy and control.
Children need risk and challenge to learn and to test their abilities as well as to experience a sense of adventure. Danger, however, is where risk cannot be overcome by learning through experimentation, because it is beyond the physical and perceptual abilities of the child.
In play, children usually have increased feelings of success and optimism as they act as their own agents and make their own choices.
Physical challenge through play, allows children to test and develop all types of motor skills. This has direct health and well-being benefits, and contributes to the development of self-esteem.
Why do we need public play spaces?
Play occurs everywhere however public play spaces are important as they are seen as a legitimate place for play and where play is encouraged. Whereas in other places, play may not be seen as appropriate.
Social and physical settings, and an early connection to place appear to have a profound influence on behaviour and development (within the family, school, health, in the work place and the neighbourhood) and yet all these are under considerable stress.
Public play spaces therefore have never been so importance as the opportunities for play in incidental and wild places, as well as formal public and private open spaces are shrinking due to urban development and the increasing cost of land.
How can play spaces be designed to provide the important play experiences children need?
In order for a child to understand something and develop creativity, they must construct or reinvent things for themselves. Hence, the provision of loose and changeable elements in a play space encourages this type of play. This open-ended play can be encouraged through the additional of natural elements, nature play, and materials and found objects that can be shared.
Creative / cognitive and sensory play experiences can be stimulated by: access to sand and water, nature, and cause and effect/mechanical equipment, table games, interactive panels, music and communicating through speaker tubes, for example.
Imaginative play may be encouraged through specific types of play equipment and props – for example: boats and cars, steering wheels, shop counters, and cubbies.
Swinging and rocking can be quiet contemplative, as well as social, and they help vestibular development.
How do we encourage children of all abilities to play?
Children with a disability need the same types of play experiences as all children. However, they may need more supportive spaces to enable them to access play opportunities.
Specialised equipment is not essential for children with a disability to play. A greater consciousness about universal design and spatial arrangements can encourage children with low vision or using a wheelchair.
The first priority is for all children to be able to get to the social spaces in a play space that encourage interaction with other children, carers and other family members and friends.
Simple choices of equipment, accessible paths in and around the space, the ability to reach things from a chair or a mobility device, and space to get under shop counters or decks, as well the attention to details in equipment design helps everyone play. Details such as hand holds, back supports and straps on swings, stable wheelable surfaces to get to equipment, wheel stops on edges, hammocks so children don't have to sit up, steering wheels, cubbies and sand play for seated children with adequate space to get underneath, and space for multiple seats in rockets and swings – all support social play and enable a person to assist.
The project is due for completed mid to late 2017.
For more information regarding this project email firstname.lastname@example.org.