Are you friends with your local park?
Helping improve your local park is a great way to get kids involved in community work.
Many of us are concerned about the effects political decisions are going to have on our local parks -- maybe your local facilities weren't up to scratch in the first place.
So what can we do about it? Friends of Parks groups up and down the country are already busy improving their local facilities.
As I carry out research for my blog Parklover I see lots of examples of their achievements – and they are a great opportunity to get the whole family involved in voluntary work that helps themselves as well as the rest of the community.
Does your park already have a Friends group?
Find out by checking out notice boards, contacting your local council, or checking the internet to see if they’ve got a website. If there’s already an active group at your local park, you and your kids could help in any number of ways, for example, organising an Easter egg hunt, keeping the bird feeders topped up, or making posters to publicise events. Your children may even get to have a say in what kind of facilities they think would benefit the park most, if funds are available.
Do it yourself!
If there’s not an existing group, why not set one up yourselves? I spoke to Shelly Quinton-Hulme, who was involved in setting up the Friends of Victoria Park in Stretford when locals were disgruntled with the state of their park. You would never know it now – it has great play areas, a wildlife garden, murals made by community groups and regular events such as mosaic making and a Halloween Party.
Shelly has the following advice for would-be park organisers:
- Find a group of like-minded people
- Be prepared for slow progress – councils can take a long time to make decisions
- Make sure you have a constitution and committee – check out another group’s website for ideas of how to do this
- Set yourself some short term goals to keep everyone motivated. Your long term goal may be a new playground and toilets, but that will take time. Smaller goals, such as putting up a bird box, will keep you going.
- Find funding opportunities - Deb's post on community funding is a fantastic resource.
Have you got involved in improving your local park facilities? We'd love to hear from you.
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