A BARRY playgroup has won the Early Years Wales Outdoor Space 2021 award.
Westend Playgroup, based in St Francis Millennium Centre on Park Road, received the accolade at the Early Years Wales Awards 2021 – an annual event formed in 2019 to recognise the passion and dedication of the childcare sector in Wales.
Westend Playgroup has developed its outdoor space over the last few years.
Previously, the area had uneven ground, a hazardous step between the concrete and the grassed area, and limited play space due to bushes.
Now, it is a colourful and safe space, with all areas accessible for wheelchair users, made possible through:
- Securing grants;
- Parents volunteering to help with practical tasks;
- An energetic team of childcare workers.
Catherine Perry leads the Vale of Glamorgan Healthy and Sustainable Pre School Scheme and nominated the playgroup for the award.
Ms Perry said: “The energy and positivity of everyone at Westend Playgroup is amazing.
“The outside play area is truly inspirational, including climbing frames and bikes, a water wall, tunnel, fruit trees, gardening areas, mud kitchen, quiet and reflective area – all in a very small space!
“Children are encouraged to make decisions about their play and take ‘managed risks’ with staff always being close by but allowing children to develop at their own pace.
“Thanks to Early Years Wales for organising these awards and recognising the huge contribution childcare settings are making to health and wellbeing.”
Spending time outdoors has a positive impact on physical and mental health. This area offers space for children to run around and strengthen bones and muscles which is important for healthy development and can also lift mood and improve mental wellbeing.
Executive Director of Public Health for Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, Fiona Kinghorn, said: “I’m delighted that the hard work of everyone involved has been recognised.
“Healthy and happy experiences in the early part of a child’s life are so important, and playing outdoors is a crucial part of healthy development.
“Thank you to everyone at Westend playgroup, and all childcare settings across Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan, for everything you do to offer such wonderful opportunities for our children.”
Other settings in the Vale of Glamorgan were also recognised in these awards:
- Teddy Bear Nursery at University Hospital Llandough was nominated for the outdoor opportunities it offers children;
- Gibbonsdown Childrens Centre in Barry was also shortlisted.