Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Our Adventure Down-Under

By Zan

Morgan and I been home from Australia for exactly 2 weeks now, and life went back to normal a little bit to quickly. I found myself day dreaming about being warm, and imagining what it's like if it could be sunny in the UK all the time. People would want to be outside a lot more in the UK if the weather was better.

This photo was taken in Swan Hill, VIC where the weather went crazy hot. We had a Pop-Up Adventure Playground in 40°C but it didn't stop the kids. The adults were a bit warm though so they sat in the only shade we had.
It was funny to discover that a country with such good weather could have so many problems getting children outside. I can't imagine being in a lovely country like Australia and not wanting to explore the outdoors, even if the mosquitoes chase after me constantly. But as we have seen in many countries, getting children outside is becoming more difficult because of skewed ideas around safety and legislation, and because it's so much easier to put them in front of the TV for a couple of hours. I guess it is just the on going competition that child-directed play is up against.

One of the workshop participants enjoyed some box time. Soon after this photo, we discovered that she had got herself stuck inside the box and had to help her out!
I've also been thinking about the wonderful people we met when we were in Australia. There was such enthusiasm for play, embraced at every level, and people are finding ways to re-introduce the idea that child-directed play has a place in every day life. People invited us into their communities and welcomed our message of play, and it was humbling to hear how people are working around the barriers of play to allow play to continue.

We popped up in a school where they were very flexible about how we used the trees. The children loved this.
We are so thankful that we had this opportunity to go to Australia. Both Morgan and myself have reflected on how our little organisation started just as one small event, and now reaches 14 different countries through training and event support, and reaches over 10,000 people every week on our social media. We're not sure how we've gone from one little local event to travelling the globe on trips to Australia, but we are really thankful that we've had so much support over the last 4 years.

This is a pic taken from our Pop-Up at The Venny Adventure Playground.
Quite wonderfully, our adventures also allowed us to meet some of the students on our Playworker Development Course. As a distance learning course with students from 12 different countries, we haven't had the chance to meet many of our students before. We were really pleased to see 4 of our students in the same location on one day, and absolutely had to take a photo:

With tutors from 3 different countries too, an opportunity for a photo like this might not come again for a long time!
This trip would not have been possible without Team Malarkey who put us up in their headquarters and made sure we were fed and watered everywhere we go. They organised the logistics of the whole trip for us, and we are really grateful for all that time spent with us, accompanying us on our adventure. Thanks especially to Justine and Donna - such lovely ladies with a passion for play.

You can see Donna and Justine in this pic with Marc Armitage at their first Malarkey birthday! Hoorah!
And of course we have news! We're going back to Australia in October! We're very excited to be visiting this beautiful country again and really hope that the message of play and loose parts will be embraced just as much as it was during this trip. We had a lovely time and are really looking forward to coming back in October!

To follow Pop-Up Zan's adventures, please visit her personal blog. For more on our next Australian tour, please go to the Malarkey website. And for more on Pop-Up Adventure Play, please go to our facebook page, or visit our website www.popupadventureplay.org

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