Charity Profile – KIDS

3 Apr 2024

“My son has been coming to Lady Allen Adventure Playground since he was six. He’s now 24. Lady Allen has been a sanctuary for me just as much as for him. It has given him the chance to be a child like any other. And it has given me time to be free from all the pressures of having a severely disabled boy.” – mother of a disabled child supported by Kids

We’ve worked with Kids since 2010, so we’ve seen the impact they’ve had on the lives of disabled children and their families across the UK, and felt the emotion involved.

The charity offers a range of support and services for children with disabilities in order to give them the same opportunities to play, learn, grow and thrive as their non-disabled peers. Empowering disabled children and young people to stand up for their rights is at the heart of everything the charity does.

Inclusive play

Our work with Kids has focused on building and improving its adventure playgrounds, of which there are four in the London boroughs of Chelsea, Hackney, Islington and Wandsworth.

As well as providing opportunities for adventurous and intuitive play, they support the development of life-skills and tackle isolation. Therefore, the impact they have in providing opportunities for both physical and emotional development should not be underestimated.

Nikki Pinfold, Head of Partnerships & Events at Kids explained how important these “sanctuaries” are for children and their families.

“They provide an escape to nature and a green space where children with special educational needs and disabilities can freely choose their play in a setting supporting their requirements,” she said.

“Many disabled children cannot access regular playgrounds because they’re simply not suitable or safe.”

Important need

Data collated by Kids reveals that 56% of families with a disabled child have to travel long distances to access a play park that meets their family’s needs. And 57% of families who have a child with a physical, learning, sensory, medical, undiagnosed or complex need are unable to access play parks as often as they would like.

Nikki continued:

“We exist to level the playing field, so that disabled children and young people can access the same opportunities as their peers. Environments like our playgrounds are a necessity in any child’s development but our playgrounds are heavily supportive so that young people with special educational needs and disabilities can develop vital sensory, communication and social skills.”

Lady Allen Playground

Currently there are 106 children who use Lady Allen Adventure Playground in Wandsworth, which was the world’s first adventure playground designed specifically for the needs of disabled children when it opened in the 1970s.

With over 80% of the children and young people who use the playground facing additional disadvantages such as being children in care, poverty and living in built-up council estates, the playground provides the only green space where they can explore and learn about the natural environment.

We first worked at Kids’ Hayward Adventure Playground in Islington in 2010. In 2011, we facilitated the build of Kids’ Lady Allen Playground with 500 Royal Bank of Scotland employees. Then in November 2023 we worked with 100 Qube Research & Technologies professionals at Lady Allen who built additional play structures. We returned in February 2024 to dismantle some aging equipment, with all salvageable wood recycled.

Our bid to return

The playground is in desperate need of rebuilding and we are on the lookout for a business partner to enable us to return and construct a new, fully inclusive playground, as soon as possible.

Nikki added:

“What Splash Projects has achieved for us over the years has been incredible. Our enduring partnership means the Splash team knows exactly what our children need and this feeds into their designs and their genuine care.

“For a company like Splash Projects to bring its people, professionalism, contacts and expertise to a project like this is just fantastic.

“If we can get it off the ground, the children will be coming back to something which is designed specifically with them in mind, it will be rejuvenated and ready for them to play, learn, grow and thrive, which is what we all want.”

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