Adventure Clubhouse hailed as ‘antidote’ to isolation for children
An outdoor activity hub at Hampstead Heath has proven a great success by providing free learning sessions to kids during the pandemic, helping to boost social skills after long isolation periods.
The Adventure Clubhouse at Hampstead Heath, which is managed by the City of London Corporation, saw around 3,500 children take part in its nature-based activities from June to October last year.
Despite restrictions, children between eight and 16 years old, were able to play safely and still enjoy the free learning activities. The centre welcomed thousands of local children to its programme to boost social interaction, confidence and connection with nature. The sessions also helped keep the children active and moving due to the physical activities on offer.
The Clubhouse offers outdoor adventure play structures - including a large ground level trampoline accessible for wheelchair users and a giant rope swing, space for ball games and a programme of outdoor activities such as den building, obstacle courses, dodge ball, cricket, circus skills and water slides. Indoors there is an activity room for games, arts and crafts and a programme of activities such as mask making, recycled junk modelling, leaf printing and badge making.
Adventure Clubhouse is about to reopen in February half term after being closed over the winter and is now taking bookings. To book a session visit - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/half-term-at-the-adventure-clubhouse-8-11-year-olds-tickets-260154247357. The sessions are free and funded by the City of London Corporation.
Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood and Queen’s Park Committee, Anne Fairweather, said:
“The staff at Adventure Clubhouse really stepped up during the pandemic and provided a space where children could safely interact with each other, taking them out of isolation and boosting their key life skills.
“The sessions are free which means they are easily accessible and inclusive to all children. After such a long time spent in lockdown the centre enabled children to learn about nature and the world we live in through really creative and interactive activities.”
Ephraim Kenna-Braithwaite, the Play and Learning Officer at Adventure Clubhouse, said:
“After a year of lockdown and the Clubhouse being closed, it was so nice to get the Clubhouse back open and running, and great seeing the children building bonds having fun and enjoying learning through play.
“Myself and the team really got to know the children well, and made some great bonds and relationships with both the children and their parents, and we are all very excited to be back open for the next half term.”
Feedback from participants has demonstrated the importance of such play spaces, particularly after the challenges of lockdowns and other Covid restrictions :
“ I am a parent of three boys and live locally to Hampstead Heath. Two of my boys were old enough to enjoy your newly refurbished "adventure playground", next to the 1 o'clock club…. I just wanted to feedback that Ephraim and his AMAZING team were so brilliant with all of the children. After a very long time, either being cooped-up with home-schooling, or simply because of lock-downs, this was the antidote to that year-plus of isolation.”
The City of London Corporation has also invested in other play areas on the Heath recently. The Vale Of Health play area was upgraded in 2021 and the East Heath play area is reopening in mid-February after major improvements. A donation appeal is also underway to raise money towards an upgrade of the Heath Extension play area: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/hampstead-heath/donate-to-hampstead-heath/extension-playground .
The play centre is part of the City of London Corporation Green Spaces, Learning Places programme which was developed six years ago in response to a growing consensus that spending time in nature is beneficial to physical and mental health, and a concern over health and wellbeing inequalities as people in deprived areas of London face more barriers than most to accessing nature.
The learning team target programmes to reach those who could benefit the most, including school children growing up in poverty, young people excluded from mainstream schooling, and local people from communities that are under-represented in visiting green spaces.
The City Corporation protects over 11,000 acres of open space in London and south east England – including Epping Forest and Burnham Beeches - and over 200 smaller sites in the Square Mile, investing over £38m a year.
These green spaces, most of which are charitable trusts, are run at little or no cost to the communities that they serve. They include important wildlife habitats, Special Areas of Conservation, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and National Nature Reserves. They are protected from being built on by special legislation.
Notes to editors:
Hampstead Heath is one of London's most popular open spaces, attracting almost 10 million visits a year.
The beauty spot is a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation and recognised for containing some of the best examples of the capital’s habitats, including rare and important species which are of particular significance within a heavily built-up area of London.
Hampstead Heath is a registered charity, funded by revenue generated through services, grants, donations and over £6m a year from the City Corporation.
Kristina Drake| Media Officer, Public Services
City of London Corporation