Saturday, 9 August 2014

"You're only 5? I'm 7 and I can't do that" - Reflections from a Play Day in Wyke

I spent the day today at Wyke Community and Children's Centre where I was going to serve as a volunteer at their annual play day. I volunteered a couple of years ago and was super chuffed when Andy said that they were running another one this year.

I wanted to work today as a playworking photographer, rather than simply a playworker. Reason? I wanted to get some good photos. But of course, you simply cannot take the playwork out of the playworker - that's where all the good conversations and magical playful moments get noticed. So I did a little playwork too. Here are some of my favourite moments:

1. The slip and slide is always very well received. It's exhilarating to skim quickly across the surface of the water at a speed that seems a bit too quick. This young lad looked right into the camera as he slipped past me. We had a little giggle at the bottom of the slip and slide only then for a member of staff, Emma, to whoosh past at a surprising speed onto the grass. We laughed together and I moved on to take photos elsewhere. Later on in the afternoon he ran up to me with a smile and said "Remember when Emma slid passed us?" And we just stopped to share a giggle together before he ran off. It just goes to show that moments that we adults take for granted are important to children!

2. I approached a very busy mud kitchen with a view to taking some subtle photos and then moving on, but when I got there, the children were so immersed in their own play, they barely noticed me snapping away. I moved towards this table of baking gear just time in time for someone to say "The cakes are ready" and then hand over a baking tray. Everyone took one of the "cakes" and dumped the mud into that pan that they have their hands in. I felt really honoured to capture that moment.

3. As the Play Day came to a close, two little boys lingered. They were very taken by the tree in the middle of the site and climbed in, up, round and through it. The boy in the stripey t-shirt seemed to be working through something, I suspected he wanted to go higher, but couldn't quite get it together. Having dawdled for long enough, the smaller boy in a white t-shirt made his way past the stripey shirt, and then up the tree. You can just about see his feet in the photo, on the horizontal branch above the stripey boy. Until this point, the conversation was fascinating enough, but the best exchange came just after this photo: 
"How old are you?"
"I'm 5"
"You're only 5? I'm 7 and I can't do that"
"I do this a lot"
I guess this just goes to show that everyone's abilities are different, nomatter what age you are, and that you should never underestimate the younger children!

I had a wonderful time at Wyke today. I'd like thank Andy for letting me come play, and the team for treating me as one of their own. They do such wonderful work at Wyke to serve the community and provide playful opportunities for children. I hope that they'll have me again for next year's Play Day :)

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