A Rio-Inspired Summer of Play

Director of Play, Pip Levett, looks back at the Summer…

It’s hard to know where to start, when reviewing 89 days of play this summer in 27 Gloucestershire communities for more than 1,600 children and young people. I’ve tried to capture a few thoughts following our summer de-brief, and am staggered by the range of memorable moments, tricky situations, kindness, talent, reliability and stamina of Team PG.

Rio Olympic Inspired Play: We always connect with big international sporting events, and using our fab ‘Get Set Action’ resources spent much of the summer creating medals, Olympic hoops, flags, and setting each other challenges with hybrid Rio Olympic style events. Some girls made medals and created their own ceremony, singing a song that apparently represented ‘Planet Girl’. A boy in Springfield Park, Cheltenham just wanted to do running races and was unbeatable!

Rural Play Matters: We’ve added Willersey, in the Cotswolds to our growing list of rural villages that we take play out to. Whole families looked forward our visits and Robert, 11 told us succinctly “Every village in the entire world should have Play Rangers. It allows you to come outside and brings everyone together. It really is a nice idea”. Our rural play gatherings in Saul were given a boost by volunteers in the village opening up the Memorial Hall for toilets and tea, much to everyone’s delight. Up and down the County we had parents and grandparents helping out, bringing the Rangers cups of tea, and making lovely comments about Team PG. One Ranger told me “I felt almost overwhelmed by just how grateful the local parents were”.

Priceless Moment: In Chesterton, Cirencester a group of children spent much of the day hiding under a camouflaged tarp in the trees asking various Rangers to see if they could see any movement or hear them. One Ranger overheard the group doing what we call a dynamic risk assessment, working out how to avoid hurting themselves, whilst playing. So you do listen to our Rangers!

Feeding hungry children: We have met lots of hungry children this summer, and it has been our pleasure to share the food donated by Tesco Community Food Connection in partnership with FareShare FoodCloud. Simple food shared outdoors and fuelling active and creative play is a great recipe for childhood wellbeing.

Painful Injuries: Our First Aiders have been called into action this summer, because of course when children (and Rangers) play outdoors accidents happen. A little girl was bitten by a dog at one session, and our Rangers were so kind that her Mum left us a lovely phone message telling us how brilliant we’d been.

Separated Families: It can be very traumatic when parents split up, and difficult to find things to do together that are fun and free with the feel good factor. We’ve noticed quite a few Dads coming to our sessions with their children, and enjoying time together in a relaxed way. Many talk to us and other parents about the difficulties when families split, and we are able to offer our friendship and a sense of belonging.

I’m left reflecting on Team PG’s super human effort, the marvellous power of play and will end with words from a local Mum “Amazing… we had great fun, the staff are the best, the service second to none. Always a welcome and the children come away completely worn out. The children love everything from the games, arts and crafts, chatting with staff”.

Thank you Team PG, you are amazing!