Blenheim, ON has a population of 4,563. Between the pop-up adventure playground and workshop afterwards, we saw about 200 – a significant proportion of the local residents. They welcomed us into the Growing Together Family Resource Centre and talked about efforts over recent years to move towards an emergent, more child-led curriculum.
The space they’d opened for the pop-up was really large and generous-feeling, a vast green expanse of grass with a spectacular tree just waiting for hammocks. The people we met, educators and local families, were new to playwork but familiar to one another. In the workshop we had a sense of the crowd as nervous but excited, and ready to learn more about supporting children’s play.
We showed some pictures, told a few jokes, and started telling stories that illuminate key terms in playwork such as cues, frames and adulteration. We used examples from the pop-up and our own practice, to show how easy it is for adults to interrupt or co-opt children’s play. Together we laughed at ourselves, at the times we’ve got it wrong, and reminded one another that play support, like play itself, is a process.
Afterwards they gave us each a gift bag, fully stocked with Canadian snacks. With the car filled up with ketchup potato chips, coffee crisps other delights, we set off again for Vaughan ON and the open road. Thank you Blenheim, ON!