Play important for community health





Summer holidays are a great time for whanau to enjoy the outdoors and opportunities for play that grow with the great weather. We know there is more to play than fun and games: it assists children to develop physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally. The beauty of play is it need not involve expensive toys or be costly to create fun or benefit development. Sport Whanganui advocates for the importance of play in our communities. The team at Sport Whanganui, whanau, and friends, explored the centre of town to discover play opportunities. Whanganui has many green spaces, parks, and of course, backyards to activate play over summer. One of the keys to play is seeing opportunities wherever you may be. The centre of town, not a location that immediately brings play to mind, is another place you can add to your repertoire to keep the kids entertained. Here are a few gems that our tamariki loved. We like to call these places and play activities Play Pops: places and play that make fun pop, at no cost! HANDS UP! Pukenamu Queen’s Park Pukenamu Queen’s Park, sits in the heart of downtown Whanganui. It’s a unique landscape with the iconic Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua, Whanganui Regional Museum and the War Memorial Centre at its heart. Aside from the grandeur of its buildings Pukenamu also offers opportunities for play. Pukenamu is home to The Handspan, which stands above the War Memorial Centre, a sculpture featuring the hand prints from residents of Whanganui from back in the 2002, designed by Ross MitchellAnyon, renowned potter and now an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the arts. The Handspan is a wonderful place to play, tamariki can explore the hand prints and search for one that is closest to theirs. The play can lead to conversations about themselves and ignite conversation amongst their friends. The park has many man made levels for kids to explore climbing and balancing. For a bit of let loose time the park’s green spaces are perfect for running and rolling. Leaving Pukenamu Queen’s Park via the Drews Ave exit, tamariki can follow the blue lined footpath down the Drews Ave hill to Ridgway St. MARBLE RACING Cnr Drews Ave & Ridgway St Mountains to Sea Marble Racing is located on the corner of Drews Ave and Ridgway St. Dash your marble down the mountain slopes, through rapids, and down the Whanganui Awa. If you’ve forgotten your marbles, you can even buy a marble from a gumball machine on site for 20c! This play is so much fun and very social for the whanau. SOUND AND SENSES Cnr Drews Ave and Rutland St One block down towards the river on the corner of Drews Ave and Rutland St tamariki can find the joy of ‘noise and nose’ with musical instruments and scent awareness. There is the repurposed piano interior and Steel Tongue Drum for creating unique sounds. To bring the volume down, tamariki can use their noses to discover the different scents in the surrounding herb gardens. Like Pukenamu Queen’s Park, there is the opportunity for play on manmade structures like the bike stand. The stand makes for great climbing and crossing play. For more information on the importance and purpose of play, beyond the fun, and some other Play Pops locations, check out