Sunday, 11 June 2017

Chuffed: My Next Big Adventure

I have spent the last few months in a frenzied state of organising.

As you all know, I work with Pop-Up Adventure Play, a small UK-based charity that works worldwide to promote the child's right to play. We do this by visiting communities and talking to folks about the benefits of play, giving hints and tips on how to improve sites for play and encouraging the use of the playwork approach when working with children. We also run public play events with recycled materials called loose parts and provide children with time, space and permission to direct their own play within that setting - an ideal platform for play conversation. In essence, we speak about playwork theory and then model the practice in person to folks wherever we go.

The next big adventure is big. I think that I must say this every time I go on a massive trip with Pop-Up. Let me look.... this was the blog about the World Tour, and this was the post reflecting on the USA tour. Okay, maybe I didn't say those exact words, but they were big adventures. Each of these trips took two months to complete and over 4 month to organise. The USA trip took us on a 11,000 mile round road trip of the country, and the world trip saw us clock 37,000 miles literally around the planet. I'm thinking back and realising how ridiculous these plans really are... and I still can't believe that I was part of it!

I'm going to add another crazy adventure to our list: Canada! 

Ladies and gentlemen, Team Pop-Up Adventure Play - which now includes Andy as well as Morgan - will be touring Canada as part of Pop-Ups Tour 2017! Hoorah! It will be a glorious 2-month journey where we will travel from East to West in the little yellow car delivering workshops and play events as we go! Yes - it's awesome, yes - it's mad, and yes - I know how far that drive is. But it's going to be great! 

As it always is with these things, we want to reach the folks in the world which are hard to reach, either literally or financially, or both. If you have followed my adventures enough, you'll know that they are meaningful as well as fun, otherwise we just wouldn't do it. It's hard work driving endless hours every day for days on end just to reach someone's town for a few hours, but if it means that the message of child-led play can get to those folks, then so be it. To ensure that we are able to hang out with all folks, regardless of financial background or location, we are doing some fundraising! 

If you are willing and able, please donate to our Chuffed campaign here and support our work. If you can't donate, please share my link and my story with everyone everywhere! I will be so very very chuffed if you are able to support us in any way you can!

We're not doing this to make money and we are not in it for the glory. Ladies and gentlemen, we are doing this for children and their play - please help us help children across Canada to have more play opportunities.

More details about the adventure soon! :) Please enjoy this photo that I took at the Campference while I do carry on doing more crazy organising in preparation for the tour.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

"This was a journey of puddles - a Puddle Journey!" - Reflections from a day with Hannah and Nina

My little friends Hannah and Nina came round today to have a play. It was raining hard when they got here so they had brought a board game with them along with their wet weather gear.

     "Do you really want to play monopoly, or would you like me to get some stuff out for you to do whatever you want with?"

So for the bulk of the morning, Nina and Hannah were occupied with their own projects, consumed with their own intrinsic desire to create, design or investigate. My mum was quite amused by my laid back approach to this child care (by mid morning I'd managed to do most of my emailing without them noticing) but she could see that they were absolutely fine by themselves.

For lunch, I went with pancakes, thinking that food with interactivity always goes down a storm. I wasn't to know that they'd never made pancakes at home before so this was a real treat! After building their confidence with the stove and frying pan, both girls tried out the making of the pancakes and - to Nina's pure delight - mastered the art of flipping pancakes too. By the time lunch was over, she was way better than me!

When lunch was done and after some thoughtful discussion mainly due to the looming black clouds in the sky, we decided to go for a walk by the river. We all agreed we'd put on waterproofs and wellies just in case the sky did suddenly pour so we kitted up and headed out. The weather held and the sun actually made an appearance as we investigated the swollen river. Going into the river wasn't an option today, so the girls spent some time throwing rocks into the water instead. That was the case until they discovered some excellent puddles and realised they were puddle-ready! And thus began the puddling! Here's a snap I took on my phone:

I kinda love this photo - there is such movement and joy!

They loved the puddling. They beamed during every splash. They needed to step into every puddle and kick the water, and let's face it, who wouldn't. It was a great day for it!

There may have been quick trip to the polling station after this (the conversation from last visit was very helpful) and as we walked, the girls marveled at the puddles we had just splashed in.

     "This was a journey of puddles - a Puddle Journey!" said Nina
     "Let's do it again on the way back. Please can we do it again on the way back?" asked Hannah, with big eyes.

We splished and splashed our way back to my house, and covered a genuinely massive range of topical conversations (from "Why do people take drugs?" to "What do you think your mum will vote?" and also "Where's your favourite puddle?") while jumping into these little pools of slightly buddy water. As fat droplets fell from the sky, we got back home and continued playing with all the loose parts I had at home.

Other joyful things happened after too, which I can't completely recall, and soon after the girls completed their marvelous creations, they went home. These two girls bring a lot of light into my world and spending a day with them is always enlightening. They are chatty and spirited and always full of enthusiasm. They remind me of why my job as a playworker is important, and why I love play so much. 

They are full of surprises too, and even if they think that the moments they create are mundane, I think they are truly wonderful. Like when Hannah picked some flowers for my mum and then asked me for something to put them in - I asked her if a glass tumbler was okay and she said yes, stuffed it in and disappeared. The moment was just hilarious to me and made me smile, and for some reason, this glass of flowers is so very beautiful to me. It's like no matter how orderly you want your life, sometimes a bit of chaos in a glass is perfect. It reminds me that no matter how organised you are, sometimes a little play is needed to make things just a little bit better.

Thanks for coming round, Hannah and Nina. It was a really lovely day - thank you for making and flipping pancakes with me, and jumping in puddles with me. I had loads of fun. See you very soon! :)