The Junkyard playground took place on May 12th and 13th in MyPlace, Midleton. The aim of the project was to encourage children to create their own adventures using recycled material. The inspiration for this project came from my PhD thesis, which looks at children’s unstructured play. Unfortunately, due to the institutionalisation of children’s time and space, children have limited time to play in unstructured environments and I wanted to create a creative space where children were only limited by their imagination.
After months of scavenging, the project had collected an impressive amount of cardboard boxes, tubes, bottle tops, string, blankets, clothes pegs and plastic bottles. Using scissors, duct tape and a lot of imagination, the children (and adults) busied themselves creating dens, robots, kitchens, rockets, armour, drums and much more.
One of the most rewarding parts of the project was watching the parents and children becoming absorbed in their activities. Many spending hours working on their projects without being aware of the time passing. Some children were happy to leave their creation behind for others to play with and others took theirs home with them. Overall, more than 150 people attended the Junkyard playground over the weekend and all went away happy.
Many of the children who attended the playground on Saturday returned on Sunday. Some even stayed until it was time to clean up! Thankfully, a number of families even helped with the clean-up, which took three-trailer loads to remove from MyPlace!
I am extremely grateful to all those who took part in the project and to the staff in MyPlace for facilitating it. Plans are already underway to ensure the playground will return for Midleton Arts Festival 2018! See you all there!