By Kelly Paredes

Kelly and her team are one of our independent organisers, running Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds to support their work in their community. She works with Ben’s Lighthouse, an organisation committed to putting children first. Here is Kelly’s account of their first-ever Pop-Up.

After pulling the red pick-up truck into its parking spot, filled to the brim with recyclables and loose parts, I hopped out of the cab and took in a deep breath. It was a picture-perfect day, blue skies – puffy clouds, and vendors scurrying around setting up their booths. Despite the planning, networking and idea-sharing that had gone into this day; I still had butterflies flittering around in my stomach.

Our volunteers had willingly stored loose parts in their basement and asked neighbours and employers to save boxes. Would today demonstrate how Pop-Up Adventure Play is directly in line with the mission of Ben’s Lighthouse? The booth we sponsored at Newtown’s Earth Day festival was the ideal space to give it our first go.

Popping Up in Newtown

Popping Up in Newtown

Above all, it’s ironic thinking about the amount of planning that goes into popping up for a day. Inspired by all of the creative and passionate folks at the Ithaca Day of Play conference in October 2014, it was our turn to open up our youth in Newtown to a new way to look at play.

Guess what? It turns out that it totally works.

Popping Up in Newtown

As an organization, Ben’s Lighthouse’s mission is to foster all children’s potential to build a more compassionate and connected world. We also believe children become architects of a changing society by practicing empathy, self-awareness and volunteerism. Each child’s contribution, small or large, is (in short) a benefit to self and society. Where better a place to infuse and employ our mission?

Popping Up in Newtown

What we created

Throughout the day, I scanned the area. Moreover, I took mental pictures to see what was being created, as it was ever-changing. Some of the themes of the day included robots, towers and spaceships. The pride and joy in the eyes of the kids in showing their parents what they made was truly inspiring.

There was so much excitement when they learned they could take home their projects. One parent even had to bring a pick-up truck at the end of the day, her son wasn’t ready to part with his fort – there was more play to be had!

Popping Up in Newtown

Other scenes from the day included wide-eyed parents, many remembering their youth and playing in the same way, as if this was a new opportunity for them to share their past with their children. The amount of gratitude expressed by parents, the creative energy buzzing around all day with the kids, the sunshine and the loose parts – what more could you ask for?

If you would also like to host your very own Pop-Up Adventure Playground, sign up for your resource pack here! For more information about Pop-Up Adventure Play, check out our Facebook page, our Twitter and our website.