Pushing the Boundary
On Tuesday 10th May, the families at Clarkville Playcentre came together to celebrate their outdoor area and explore new territory.
Six months ago the families at Clarkville Playcentre saw an opportunity – just beyond their boundary. ‘We wanted to expand our outdoor space, and the area behind our back fence wasn’t being used’, explains Coordinator, Jane Watts.
The original vision was to expand up to the edge of an existing concrete slab. But, with the price of removing the concrete estimated to be well into the thousands, the Clarkville Hall Committee suggested that the Playcentre might like to extend their boundary even further – to encompass the pad.
The families leapt at the opportunity. It wasn’t that the grass was greener on the other side of the fence; ‘we just wanted more space to run and stretch out’, says Jane. In fact, transforming the overgrown patch into something wonderful would require a lot of work.
On Tuesday 10th May, the families celebrated all the hard work that went in to completing the project, by planting an apple tree, and they invited Reatha Ackroyd along to cut the ribbon.
Grandma to Ella and Tommy, Reatha is known as ‘Go-Go’ to all the Playcentre kids – and parents. Five years ago, she and daughter Martha swapped roles: Martha went to manage the family dental practice and Reatha took the children, Ella and Tommy, to Playcentre. ‘Clarkville Playcentre is wonderful. There is so much support and the parents are such good friends’, Reatha shares.
Now that Ella is at school and Martha attends with Tommy on Tuesdays, Reatha’s Playcentre days are technically over. ‘But I still pop down for a cup of tea now and then’, she says; and once a year the children visit her orchard to pick apples. And of course she dons the fur coat when she’s called on to officiate at opening ceremonies!
At the opening President Sonya Sommerfeld expressed her gratitude to the Hall Committee for allowing the Playcentre to make most of the space. She also acknowledged the efforts of the families. ‘Lisa sourced stain and paint from Resene and organised for the fence to be painted. Jenny and Glenn supplied and helped to lay the Easy Lawn. One of our mums, Sophie, owns a contracting company and was able to get the excavation work done, as well as the fencing and bark. We also want to thank HT Construction and the Aspell family for their generous donations.'
‘There are so many people who deserve thanks. Our families all contributed in different ways’, Sonya continues.
Sonya attributes the momentum of the project to Jane’s energy and determination. ‘Jane was our Project Manager. She kept us motivated and the wheels turning!’
And talking to Jane it’s apparent that the wheels are still in motion. She has many ideas for developing the space: ‘We want a shade sail, a bug farm, a mud area on the court...’.
Watching the kids explore the new territory, you get the feeling that they’re eyeing up possibilities for play that the grown-ups haven’t even thought of.
The space certainly opens up new opportunities for play. The native plants, lawn, stepping stones, concrete pad, whare, geodome and additions such as water and sound features make this a multidimensional and exciting space for the kids.
Asking Sonya about the next big project, she suggests we go in for a cuppa and some celebratory party food.
It’s time to ‘watch this space’. Not in the sense of anticipating new developments, but in the sense of appreciating what the families at Clarkville Playcentre have achieved. Sitting back with friends and watching this wonderful space as the kids discover new ways to play in it.
By Kate Barber
Pictured: Once a year the children at Clarkville Playcentre go to Reatha Ackroyd’s orchard to pick apples. Fitting that Reatha (Go Go!) should officiate over the planting of an apple tree to mark the occasion.
Posted: Saturday 21 May 2016