A new play way for Ljubljana
“Safety always comes first, and play is an integral part of a happy childhood. We are thankful that we got the opportunity to realise our idea and that we can now build on this foundation.”
Ms Andreja Bednjički is the Director of the Institute for Safe Play in Slovenia - a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works to improve the safety of equipment in children’s playgrounds. Slovenia still lags behind other countries in playground safety standards because it does not have effective and comprehensive controls or legislation.
With this in mind, in 2014, the Institute for Safe Play partnered with Miðstöð Slysavarna Barna Iceland (Child Safety House Iceland) to work on a pilot project called ‘Innovative Play Way’. The project was awarded a grant of €20 000 from the NGO programme. The idea was to improve safety in children’s playgrounds on the way to school and kindergarten, while at the same time providing an attractive and stimulating healthy environment.
They created a play trail with an innovative surface and specially adapted play equipment, known as a ‘play way’, designed to be both fun and safe for children to use. The Icelandic partners shared much of their own experience in the field of child safety during the development stages of the project.
The play way consists of a series of marks of different sizes and colours drawn on the ground representing the habitats of animals, including penguins, frogs, turtles and monkeys. An information board gives instructions on how to move in each particular area, for example, whether to jump, walk on tiptoe or do lunge exercises and so on. The gymnastics get more complex for the children as they progress along the course. Not every child wants to go to school, so this was a great opportunity to make the journey both safe and fun.
To encourage the adults accompanying the children to join in, the play way includes some activities where the older generation can also take part. The project also includes educational workshops for both children and adults to teach them about the importance of children's play.
The play way was officially opened earlier this year in June 2015. Since it opened, the project’s mascot ‘Zdravko’ has guided children and explained the exercises to them on a weekly basis. As well as doing the exercises described on the information board, the Institute for Safe Play wanted to encourage the children to stretch their imaginations and play on the way. This goal has been successfully achieved with large numbers of children using it every day.