Saturday, 13 April 2024
Saturday, 13 April 2024

Mental health charity helps transform playground for primary school

A Northumberland charity which supports individuals living with complex mental health needs and learning disabilities has stepped up to support a local primary school with the creation of some new outdoor play equipment.

Blyth Star Enterprises, which provides living support and day services that reflect real working environments, has been working with Shanklea Primary School in Cramlington to design and build some exciting new play structures, exclusively from sustainably sourced materials, after the school’s previous outdoor play equipment had to be removed on health and safety grounds.

Working closely with staff and pupils to come up with creative concepts for structures that would encourage imaginative, cooperative play and help develop the children’s fine and gross motor skills, service users and support staff from Blyth Star’s woodwork department day service set to work to bring their ideas to life.

To date, the charity has built and installed a number of reading tipis and mud kitchens, a water play balance beam, a role play shop and a full-size car, complete with a personalised registration plate.

Laura Ritson, Headteacher at Shanklea Primary School, commented:

“The play equipment that we had originally in the school playground was very old, so it wasn’t a great surprise when we were advised to have it removed, however, it did leave us with a very empty, uninspiring outdoor play area.

“We started a fundraising campaign in school, planning activities like school discos, glow-in-the-dark football sessions and break-the-school rules days to raise money towards the purchase of some new equipment.

“I had worked with Blyth Star Enterprises before at my previous school so I reached out to them to see if they could support us with this new project.

“The end result has been fantastic. The staff and service users at Blyth Star took our ideas and turned them into something better than we ever imagined. The attention to detail on the car in particular is just amazing and the children love it. We really can’t thank them enough.”

Neil Hedley, Day Services Operations Manager at Blyth Star Enterprises’, said:

“Having worked with Laura in the past, we were delighted to hear from her and be invited to help her transform the play areas at her new school.

“The project is one of the most ambitious we have taken on to date, but our service users have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and have learned lots of new woodworking skills through the process.

“It was great to see the children’s happy faces when they saw some of the finished play structures for the first time and we hope that they will continue to enjoy them for many years to come.”


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