Colchester’s ParkPlay celebrates one-year anniversary

PUBLISHED: 7 August 2023

Colchester’s Old Heath ParkPlay marked its first birthday with a special celebratory session on Saturday, 5 August.

Since its launch in Spring 2021, ParkPlay, with the support of partners like Sport England, has successfully established 45 ParkPlays across the UK. With a participation rate of over 6000+ individuals on Saturday mornings, the initiative has greatly contributed to encouraging families to move more and lead healthier lifestyles.

As Colchester’s first-ever ParkPlay, Old Heath Recreational Ground ParkPlay has witnessed an impressive participation of 680 ParkPlayers on Saturday mornings since its launch on 8 August 2022.

Cllr Natalie Sommers, Colchester City Council Portfolio Holder for Communities, said: “Old Heath’s ParkPlay has become a thriving hub for families and individuals alike. It’s the perfect way to kickstart your weekend. It offers two hours of free play in the park every Saturday, providing an inclusive and active experience for all ages. Whether you want to increase your physical activity, showcase your talents, or simply meet new people, ParkPlay offers incredible entertainment for you and your family.

“I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to our dedicated local volunteers who ensure the success of our community ParkPlay sessions. They exemplify the magnificent spirit of the residents of Colchester, especially in these challenging economic times.”

ParkPlay is hoping to launch in Monkwick later this year and is currently looking for a community volunteer to lead ParkPlay there. Cllr Sommers is encouraging individuals in the community to volunteer as PlayLeaders. This opportunity is ideal for people who love their community, want to make a positive impact, are keen to get them and the people around them active, or simply wish to form meaningful connections and friendships. Regardless of the motivation, Cllr Sommers encourages those interested to reach out to Amber - Essex ParkPlay Coordinator - They offer comprehensive training programs that allow volunteers to develop both personally and professionally.

Dagmer, who started taking her son Erik to ParkPlay, said: “Erik struggles with social interaction but since we started attending ParkPlay I’ve seen a huge change in him. He’s more engaged, included and joins in the activities. The volunteers’ understanding and attention to his preferences, such as letting him be on the red team (his favourite colour), have contributed to his positive experience as ParkPlay.” 

Jo and Jackie, 70+ and 80+ respectively, said: “ParkPlay at Old Heath is terrific fun. It brings people of all ages together and is very well run by volunteers. We really enjoy the opportunity to interact with the children. We love how inclusive ParkPlay is for everyone who joins in, encouraging both social interaction and physical movement.” 

In addition to Old Heath ParkPlay, Hickory Avenue Playground in Greenstead also hosts another ParkPlay, which has welcomed 341 ParkPlayers on Saturday afternoon since its launch on 1 October 2022.

Interested individuals can register to join their local ParkPlay easily and quickly through the website.

The funding for the ParkPlays in Colchester has been provided by Colchester City Council and Active Essex. This initiative is part of the Sport England Local Delivery Pilot (LDP), an ongoing program from 2018 to 2025 that aims to test new health and wellbeing projects, including Street Tag and Essex Pedal Power. The LDP complements the efforts of the NHS in encouraging healthy and active lifestyles, with the expectation of reducing the prevalence of long-term conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Moreover, physical activity has been widely recognized for its positive impact on mental health. 

Page last reviewed: 7 August 2023


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