Barnardos Ballybeg Playground Service

Posted on Wednesday 28 November 2018

The playground has been a valuable part of Barnardos service to the community of Ballybeg Waterford since we first opened the service in 1999. Play helps children make sense of what they learn and it also provides an opportunity for children to deal with their feelings and relationships.

The supervised playground service has proved to be of enormous popularity with children, (aged between 4 years and 12 years) with numbers of approximately 30 children attending each weekend.  A variety of activities are offered to cater for the age ranges that attend.

Staff and volunteers are committed to promoting the importance of play in supporting children’s development, and provision of adequate, appropriate opportunities/ environments to encourage play experiences.

Four part time supervisors are employed to run the playground over the weekend; three playground supervisors working each day with support from volunteers. They offer a range of activities e.g. cooking, gardening, drama, sports, pool, music, art and crafts, seasonal activities etc. The children attending the playground are also treated to an annual fun day out. The support from the volunteers is so valuable to the smooth running of the playground service. The volunteers are encouraged to share their own skills and ideas be it art, sports, knitting, baking or a gift in good story telling.

Additionally, the playground service can assist in preventing some stigma that may be attached to attending the service as it seen as providing a positive community service that is available to any child that wants to attend. This service is also a useful way to provide an access and exit point for children and families who may require additional supports.

We love coming to our playground, everyone is so nice and they always listen to us and ask us what we want to doComment from a child attending the playground

Ballybeg Playground’s Volunteer Lisa Cummins shares her experience as a volunteer

My name is Lisa and I am a volunteer in the playground In Ballybeg on the weekends. I first went to Barnardos on a student placement and I enjoyed it so much that I stayed on volunteering when my placement ended.

What I really like about it is that everyone is friendly from the young people to the other members of staff. Going up every weekend and just spending time with the young people, seeing all the different personalities makes volunteering very rewarding. It’s a safe environment where everyone is made feel welcome and this is the main thing that kept me going back volunteering.

I also love the different range of activities we do in the playground like arts and craft, drama and music. Seeing how proud the young people feel after doing a piece of work is a great feeling. For myself as a volunteer, I have gained a lot of confidence from being part of the team in Barnardos and it has encouraged me to be confident in my ability as part of that team. I have also gained a huge amount of experience from the other members of staff and from working with the young people.