March 15, 2022

New ways to play in Glen Eden

Uniquely designed play trails are providing new ways for families to enjoy outside play in Glen Eden.

Located next to Glen Eden Library, the play trail is the first to be trialled in the area and it is anticipated that more trails will follow for neighbouring suburbs.

Installed over the Christmas holidays, the outdoor play space is designed to promote free play for families visiting the library or passing through.  A trial ‘pop up play’ event in late January saw the addition of games, crafts and an array of play activities in a focused afternoon event to introduce the area to local families.

The concept of the play trail was developed through a collaboration with Healthy Families Waitākere, the Glen Eden Library and The Open Fort, specialists in creative ideation workshops, training and learning through games and play.  The Waitākere Ranges Local Board supported this project as part of their ongoing Glen Eden activation programme.

Waitākere Ranges Local Board Member Michelle Clayton says the play trail is a creative low-cost addition for the families of Glen Eden to enjoy. “It is great to see the children’s ideas being applied and we hope that especially in these difficult times, they bring some much-needed fun and are well used.”

The value of play is well recognised for bringing multiple benefits for children and families, explains Bea Enriquez from Healthy Families Waitākere.

“Play helps develop imagination, dexterity, physical confidence and cognitive and emotional strength. Ensuring the play trail met the needs of local families was essential, and engagement with local tamariki was critical to ensuring local relevance for Glen Eden.”

Open Fort held co-design sessions with local school students last year to feed into the design of the play trail.

“During July to December, we ran sessions with students from Glen Eden Primary to help shape the design of the local play installation. From this, tamariki shared how important it was that the play installations should reflect the place and the local community,” explains Toby Falconer, Director of Play from Open Fort.

“The Glen Eden community and tamariki thought it was important to start with a train themed play installation to represent the history of the town and how the train station itself is a neighbourhood landmark,” says Toby.

“Since the end of December, stickers and decals of train-related play have been piloted on the footpath to start inviting community and businesses to play as they visit the town centre and library.”

Adding to the play options is a ‘Gear Up’ box, provided by Sport Waitākere and funded by NZCT. The box includes a range of play equipment including balls, giant Jenga, skipping ropes, cornhole and other outdoor play items.   

The addition of the Gear Up box for the play trail is part of a wider initiative to locate the boxes near key community spaces, putting play at the heart of the community so they can be accessed by anyone at any time. Community members can borrow, play with and return the gear for others to use.  

The learnings of the trial events will help to shape the development of future community-focused play events.