A new play trailer in Northland is removing barriers to participation and giving everyone play opportunities.
Tū Manawa funding through Sport Northland helped Parafed Northland buy a play trailer. The idea behind the application was in response to communities wanting to ensure everyone, and the variety of different needs that might encompass, has the opportunity to be involved in and enjoy “free play” in schools and communities.
And the new play trailer is doing just that, says Parafed Northland’s Sharon Carroll.
“Having the play trailer has provided so many opportunities to highlight play being for all, regardless of ability – it is also accessible, allowing for full participation.
“The more we can highlight inclusive play, the more we send strong messages to our community around equitable access and inclusion.”
The trailer features a whole range of free play equipment that allows tamariki and whānau to explore and have fun with no set rules.
All gear inside the trailer is inclusive, meaning there is something for everyone, from balls with bells inside, smaller versions and textured versions through to moon hoppers and foam rockets.
“There are so many amazing pieces in the trailer and because everyone is different and likes different things, it is important to have a variety and let the young people lead,” says Sharon.
Demand for the play trailer is huge, with Parafed Northland and Sport Northland visiting schools to showcase equipment and attending events like the Manaia View School Kick into Twilight Sports Community Connect project, the Northland Secondary School Sports Cross Country and Halberg Games North.
Schools are even asking to use it for celebration days and cross countries.
“It just shows the need. We are so thankful to have this resource and be able to share it in our community,” says Sharon.
“We see the barriers that are removed when everyone is able to participate and the confidence and connection we make with teachers and family when we show how easy it is to adapt and be inclusive.”
The trailer has quickly become a tool for upskilling teachers and staff about play in school settings too.
“They are realising the value of play, the learning that comes out when children are playing and about providing tamariki with the ‘time, space and permission’ to play in whatever way they like,” says Sport Northland’s Natalie Wilcock.
“It’s the most amazing thing to see tamariki (of all ages and abilities) playing – to see them playing on their own terms, making up their own games, their own rules, hearing them laugh, negotiate and not think about anything other than the play they are involved in at that time is amazing, it’s so cool to see the power of play.”
Like Natalie, Sharon says the “gold” has come from teachers, teacher aides and families making comments like “I didn’t think they could do that”, “this student doesn’t normally get involved”, “you have really shown us that adapting things is easy”.
“If we can showcase inclusive play to as many people as possible and give the person the resources they need to choose what they want to be involved in so they can have as many opportunities as possible, then we are moving in the right direction,” she says.