A Kettering street has come alive with play with pupils from Grange Primary Academy laughing, scooting, cycling and skipping during a car-free ‘School Play Street’ event.
The school teamed up with Kettering-based social enterprise Brightwayz to run the School Play Street outside their school gates, in Jean Road – the very first one ever held in North Northamptonshire.
With support from the police, neighbours and local councillors, part of the road was closed to vehicles and children were able to play safely in the street.
Chris Latimer, headteacher of Grange Primary Academy, said: “It was just incredible to see our pupils playing on the road and in such a safe environment. Thank you to everyone for helping make this happen – the neighbours have been absolutely amazing. We can’t wait to do it again and hope this will inspire other schools to do the same.”
Event organiser Alison Holland, founder of Brightwayz, said: “This School Play Street has not just been fun, it has also been a showcase for parents and the wider community, illustrating just how much safer and nicer the area is for everyone if we can keep the school gates and area around the school clear of vehicles. It makes walking, cycling and scooting to school much more attractive if it feels safer.
“Although this was just for one day, we hope this play street will make parents realise how important it is to keep cars away from school gates all the time and do all they can to let their children walk, cycle or scoot at least some of the way to school every day. Thank you to all the neighbours too, who supported the event and were invited to come along and enjoy a cake, generously donated by the Co-op.”
Northamptonshire Sport and Premier Sport hosted games throughout the event including space hoppers, hula-hooping and hopscotch.
Play Streets, first developed by parents on one street in Bristol who subsequently set up the community interest company Playing Out, has now been taken up by hundreds of communities supported by councils and local organisations.
New mayor of Kettering Keli Watts visited the project while collecting her granddaughter who attends the school’s nursery.
Cllr Watts said: “I’ve never seen a School Play Street in action before and it really has been amazing. It was such a privilege to be part of such a joyful event at a school that means so much to our whole family.”
A team of firefighters from Kettering Fire Station added to the fun, bringing along one of their engines and treating children to water-filled hose fun.
Evie Caswell,10, said: “It’s been so much fun and we got to be free on the road, something we can’t usually do. The fire engine was amazing and I loved the cool bikes.”
Ten-year-old Ruby Ann Biddle said: “Blocking off the road to cars has been such fun. I got to play with my friends, doing fun races and playing with giant bubbles.”
Lily-Mae Jones, also 10, said: “It was such fun and I played hopscotch.”
Schools interested in organising activities to promote active travel and safer streets, such as School Play Streets, are invited to get in touch with Brightwayz at www.brightwayz.co.uk.