A PIONEERING junk playground project based near Wrexham is making a big splash over the pond.
The Land in Plas Madoc, which is run by AVOW (Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham), was opened in February 2012 and has since become a haven for children aged five and over.
It is made entirely out of junk parts such as tunnels and tyres donated by local businesses and organisations, which can be turned into dens and moved around the playground.
The playground, which was built with funding from WREN (Waste Recycling Environmental Limited), has since gained the attention of American documentary maker Erin Davies.
She raised $13,300 in order to travel over to the UK and film The Land for a month during Easter for an hour long documentary, which is expected to be released in the new year.
And on the back of her visit Joan Almon, co-founder of the US Alliance for Childhood, and Janice O’Donnell, executive director of the Providence Children’s Museum, are planning to visit over the half term holiday in the hope of inspiring similar projects over in the US.
AVOW play manager Claire Griffiths said: “The idea came from the children in Plas Madoc and was something we had been working on for a number of years.
“It’s based on junk play, which first came over to the UK in 1948. On the playground you’ll find loose items which can be moved around and adapted.
“The children can build dens, climbs trees, they jump, they run and we even have a brook which runs through it.
“The items are donated by local businesses, factories and organisations. It’s all scrounged.
“They absolutely love it, we get 30 to 40 children in per night and every individual experience is different. The playground changes all the time and you can come in one week and it’s one way and the next it’s completely different.”
Explaining the playground’s American links, she said: “It all started when Erin first came over in November and as a result she appealed for money on her website to return over Easter and shoot the documentary and raised $13,300.
“We told her to come over at Easter as we thought the weather would be nice, but it was when we had all the snow. She ended up with us for a month and captured the playground in all weathers.
“She put headcams on the children which was amazing as you don’t get to see their experiences of it. It’s really exciting.
“With this latest visit the ladies are hoping that The Land will inspire similar playgrounds in the US as there’s only four at the moment.
“We feel very excited and privileged.”
Joan Almon, who will be visiting on Wednesday, October 30, said: “There is growing interest in playwork and in adventure playgrounds in the US which, at the moment only has four, all on the west coast.
“An American film maker making a documentary about The Land introduced us to this exciting place.
“We think it will serve as a powerful example of what children can do when they are allowed to play freely in an adventurous space and in the presence of skilled playworkers. We hope it will inspire similar playgrounds in the US.”