Spotlight On: Hayward Adventure Playground

Words by Ellen Foley, Playground Manager.

Can you give us an overview of your organisation? 

KIDS Hayward Adventure Playground is an open-access adventure playground for young people with additional needs living in Islington. We support young people from the age of 6-25 and are open to anyone who might find it hard to access a mainstream service due to complex behavioural, physical, or emotional needs. Most of the young people who attend have 1:1 support while on site, we have a big team that is always growing in order for us to accommodate as many young people as possible! 

We are open pretty much all year round! We run after-school clubs and weekend sessions during term time, and holiday playschemes when schools are closed, we close for the occasional maintenance week to make sure everything is ship-shape, but try to make sure we are a consistent part of a young person’s care plan by staying open as many days of the year as possible.

What does your provision look like?

Hayward has a core ethos of child-led play and all our playworkers are trained to understand the playwork principles. The young people here dictate their own activities, and the team who work here are dedicated to advocating for the rights of all the young people to play in the way that is important to them. We defend their right to come home dirty, to take off their shoes, or to dress up in clothes that they choose. The space is theirs. We encourage them to garden, to paint, to build new structures and play spaces. To get messy or wet and take their shoes off. 

Can you share a story of how a young person has been positively impacted by the work you do?

One of the amazing things about running services up to the age of 25 is that we can be part of a young person’s life through some of the most exciting events – a service user came to see us the other day to tell us about his new job as a football coach. It’s amazing having known him as a young man who enjoyed playing football at the playground, and encouraging other people to join in regardless of their ability, now seeing him get his first job in something that we know he will flourish in.

What are your organisation’s goals or hopes for next year? 

Some exciting things are already in motion for us going forward! We have just been awarded a green space fund that will help us manage our amazing site, and open up some volunteer opportunities for our older service users. However, we would love to be able to offer up our site to other organisations for use as training space or to run sessions, and are always keen to make new connections with people who would like advice on catering to young people with additional needs. We are also trying to grow our youth group (16-25), that runs on a Wednesday evening from 6.30-8.30pm.

How can people get involved or support your organisation? 

We are always looking for talented playworkers to join our team, which you can apply for through our website:–hayward-adventure-playground-islington.html

We also run fundraising events through Friends of Hayward Adventure Playground, and there is always something fun around the corner: