ABOVE: Children and playworkers join the Mayor on a bouncy castle

Almost 6,000 children flocked to 80 free Play in the Park sessions provided in city parks by Chelmsford City Council this summer, showing their eagerness to get outdoors and have some safe fun after a year of lockdowns and restrictions.

Record-breaking year for Play in the Park

Play in the Park has been running for many years, offering school holiday activities in parks across the Chelmsford area for children aged 3-11. This year broke records with 5,881 kids attending at least one session – that’s a 57% increase on pre-pandemic numbers in 2019.

Even a wet summer didn’t put little ones or their dedicated playworkers off. Danbury’s Play in the Park saw heavy rain, but the fun continued with children and adults sheltering under gazebos when it got too wet. A parkour session in Boreham, faced with morning showers, simply moved indoors alongside tables for mixing slime, sculpting with Play-Doh and other crafts.

Other areas, like Great Waltham, Bicknacre and Galleywood, were lucky and continued outdoors in beaming sunshine. Children wore themselves out with fun activities including a large inflatable slide, outdoor games, and even a visiting zoo! The meerkats, lizard, skunk and tortoise were all favourites. There were also calmer, imaginative activities on offer, such as sitting and listening to a storyteller.

‘Brilliant session’

Feedback from adults and their children was very positive. Jenny said, “I wanted to thank you for a brilliant session today at Chelmer Park. Everyone on the team was friendly and efficient, but the two young people running the sports activities were real stand-outs. Both had a great manner with the kids and were very polite.”

Alex said, “We’ve enjoyed two afternoon sessions this week: Mister B party and slime making! Thanks very much for always making it a great event for the children.”

Socialising again

The Mayor of Chelmsford, Councillor Jude Deakin, attended many of the sessions. She said, “It was interesting to talk to the parents, grandparents, and carers at all the venues. Many came and met up with family or friends they’d not seen throughout the pandemic. It was good for the children to learn to socialise again – the younger ones hadn’t had that opportunity, and some were nervous. I’m proud that our council can offer these free activities, which allow many children to have experiences they wouldn’t otherwise be able to have during their summer holidays.”

The ever-popular Play in the Park is sure to return in the Easter school holidays next year. To be first to hear about sessions near you, sign up to the City News mailing list or follow us on Facebook. You can also check out the Play in the Park webpage.

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