Connecting Through Play: Half-Term Holiday Play Sessions Bring People Together
In today’s fast-paced world, finding time to connect with others and build meaningful relationships can be challenging. However, our recent half-term holiday play sessions in public parks have proven to be a breath of fresh air, providing both children and adults with the opportunity to bond, make new friends, and reconnect with old ones. These community spaces, bustling with energy and guided by the trusted Play Rangers, have become hubs of connection and camaraderie.
The Power of Play:
We visited 13 different locations across Gloucestershire and had over 745 play visits.
Play is a universal language that transcends age, background, and social status. It serves as a catalyst for human interaction and has the remarkable ability to break down barriers and foster connection. By investing in our community play days our funding partners have helped us create an environment where play is encouraged and celebrated, successfully making a space for people to engage with one another in a meaningful way. It was such a privilege to be part of everyone’s half term fun. From community play days with hundreds of people, to targeted work in smaller groups play was all around us!
New Friendships Blossom:
One of the most remarkable aspects of our community play sessions is the way they bring people together, forming new friendships that may last a lifetime. Children, in particular, are quick to embrace the opportunity to meet and play with their peers. The shared experiences and joyous moments forged during these sessions lay the foundation for strong bonds and lasting friendships. Whether its building sandcastles on our fake beach, participating in ‘jumpers for goal posts’ team sports, or collaborating on creative projects, the play sessions provide a safe and supportive space for new friendships to blossom.
Reconnecting with Old Friends:
As well as fostering new relationships, our recent half-term holiday play sessions brought us back together with some of our old friends.
Catching up with a mum who told us her eldest child that was a regular to our sessions many years ago is now a prison officer. Having someone we helped through some challenging times stop by to reconnect and update us on how he is doing. Grandparents that visited play sessions with their grandchildren years ago were happy to hear that our charity is still providing the space for all ages to have fun and play.
Children that have been part of Play Nurture groups in their schools are bringing their family and friends along to community play sessions, feeling able to engage with their community with confidence.
Two stand out moments for our play team were separate interactions with two people who we have worked with since they were around 8 years old, and last saw over 5 years ago. We had lost touch (they moved or funding in their area ceased) and to be honest we were concerned about their futures. It was amazing to hear both report to us they are doing well and “… things are good!”
Community Spaces as Catalysts:
Community spaces play a pivotal role in the success of these play sessions and these lasting relationships. They provide a neutral ground where individuals from diverse backgrounds can come together and engage in play without any preconceived notions or barriers.
This was highlighted everywhere but none more so than during the Community Play Day in Podsmead with over 100 people taking part in a day of ‘food and fun’ at Scott Avenue Open Space. Charity partners working together on a community open space providing something for everyone to come together and enjoy.
Our commitment to selecting inclusive and accessible venues (as best we can) ensures that everyone, regardless of their abilities or circumstances, can participate and feel a sense of belonging. These spaces become the canvas upon which connections are made and communities are strengthened.
The Guidance of Play Rangers:
We work at the speed of trust and our Play Rangers play a crucial role in facilitating these meaningful connections. Their expertise in child-led play and their ability to create a safe and supportive environment for participants ensure that everyone feels comfortable and empowered to engage with others. Their presence helps foster a sense of trust, enabling individuals to let their guard down and truly connect with one another.
Our recent half-term holiday play sessions have demonstrated the profound impact of play on human connection. Through the guidance of Play Rangers and the creation of inclusive community spaces, people have had the opportunity to form new friendships and reconnect with old ones. These sessions serve as a reminder of the importance of play in building strong communities, fostering empathy, and nurturing relationships that can last a lifetime. As we navigate our increasingly busy lives, it is essential to prioritise and celebrate the power of play as a means to connect with one another on a deeper level.