KIDS will soon be able to play in timber caves and wigwams as part of an overhaul of school playgrounds.
The days of hastily line painted hopscotch courts will be numbered by the ground-breaking revamp of six Edinburgh primary schools.
School grounds at Buckstone, Carrick Knowe, Castleview, Granton, Lorne and Sighthill primaries will get the adventure play makeovers.
Their new timber caves, wigwams, treehouses and jungle mazes will contrast heavily with the railings and gravel set-up in many school playgrounds – and are being built thanks to Scottish Government funding.
Each primary is netting around £15,000 for the revamp.
Play experts who praised the project said providing as much play variety as possible to young children was crucial to firing their imaginations and increasing the appeal of outdoor activity.
Ivan Harper, senior play worker at The Yard, an adventure playground for youngsters with additional support needs, said: “It’s going to enrich the playground at these schools considerably.
“Often, there’s not enough in play areas that will appeal to a really wide range of kids. These new features will actively appeal to a broader range, and that’s before you talk about accessible use for children with disabilities.”
Work at the six schools –selected from an original list of 37 based on the strength of applications submitted – has also been welcomed by political leaders.
Councillor Gavin Corbett, Green member for Fountainbridge and Craiglockhart, and a member of the city’s education committee, said: “What it shows is that the appetite for transforming play outstrips what is available.
“I’ve argued for a while now that the council could do much more to work alongside parents’ groups to access a lot of the funding which councils themselves cannot tap into. Working together we’d soon find that doubling the money was child’s play.”
City education bosses said the developments were part of a drive to make it easier for Edinburgh’s children to play.
Education leader Councillor Paul Godzik said: “Play helps improve physical activity, develop social skills and stimulates imagination.” He said schools that improve playgrounds see improvements in behaviour. The play effect sees kids “settle more quickly after break time,” he said.
THE CHUBBINESS CHALLENGE
AMID growing evidence of a child obesity timebomb, council leaders are ploughing ahead with a drive to boost opportunities for play across Edinburgh.
Education leaders are preparing to appoint a senior councillor as play champion for the Capital, responsible for organising a wide-ranging Festival of Play aimed at the entire city and designed to give parents ideas they can develop with their children. Experts hope the appointment will highlight the importance of playtime to everything from sporting achievement to happiness in later life.
The appointment will come as city bosses plan the publication of a comprehensive play strategy.