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Gail MacDonald, the woman behind the new Broom Rd playpark talks to Cumbernauld Media

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 23:04 GMT on Tuesday, June 25th, 2013.

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25-06-2013 - By Scott Campbell (+44) 0774 296 870 - Broom Road playpark's official opening, in Abronhill; Picture shows Abronhill Regeneration Forum member, Gail MacDonald with mother.
Gail MacDonald (left), with her mother (right); brought the project together and organised its opening, today. Image is copyright of Scott Campbell/ Cumbernauld Media.

ABRONHILL community activist, campaigner and resident, Gail MacDonald has talked to Cumbernauld Media after her successful official opening of the new Broom Road playpark

Mrs MacDonald is a member of the Abronhill Regeneration Forum and was the main activist behind the design, planning and construction of the £140,000 playarea, which opened earlier today.

Talking to Cumbernauld Media, Mrs MacDonald talked of the reasons which lay behind her rationale in wanting a new playpark, in Broom Road; her vision and inspiration; and the hard work undertaken behind closed doors.

“After attending a Play Scotland Conference in 2010 which looked at the development and benefits of outdoor play and learning I felt inspired to create an exciting innovative natural play space for children in our community,” she said. “I discussed my ideas with members of the local community; there was great interest and overwhelming support for the concept of creating something unique using the principals of play involving the natural elements.

“I had a vision to create an exciting, natural play space on the site of an existing play area at Broom Road, Abronhill. The few items of play equipment in the existing site where old, offered limited play opportunities and no longer conformed to current European Safety Standards. My aim was to regenerate and redevelop this rundown dilapidated area so that it would offer dynamic play opportunities for children 0 – 16 years.

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“We delivered consultation workshops with the pupil councils of Whitelees Primary School and Abronhill High School and their ideas and suggestions have been incorporated into the design to ensure we are creating a space that meets the aspirations of our children and young people. It was clear that the children are very disappointed in the play area as it stood but excited at the prospect of it being redeveloped. We also carried out a community survey the findings where used in the planning process . Our findings showed overwhelming support for our proposal with 100% of respondents agreeing with our proposal to create an exciting and unique natural play space.

“The result of the various consultation exercises informed our design brief to create a play space which offers a way of life linked to outdoor experiences. Children given the opportunity will explore and research their environment. We have developed an environment supporting challenging play with managed risk opportunities while allowing children to find their own levels of courage, resourcefulness, co-operation, compromise and acceptability. A place where children can create good childhood memories, become confident, successful learners and share a respectful understanding of the natural world in which we live, allowing them to grow into responsible citizens able in turn to make effective contributions to their communities in the future. But more than anything we have created a space that will be fun for children to play.

“The natural play space incorporates materials such as grass and sand plus boulders, planting and mounding. There is a covered area suitable for rest, socializing and storytelling, various types of physical play opportunities such as balance and climbing structures, bridges, a grass covered tunnel and stepping logs. There is also fixed play equipment chosen by local children as a result of consultation. We have created a play space that appeals to their senses with the use of planting, megaphones, binoculars and textured surfaces.

“I have been working in partnership with Christina McGready at CultureNL and North Lanarkshire Council we secured grant funding from a number of funders including Waste Recycling Environmental Limited (WREN), Biffa-award, the Environmental Key Fund and North Lanarkshire Council totalling £140,000. Work start on site in February 2013 and the play area was completed in June 2013.”

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