London mum, Lisa Adam has worked tirelessly for two years to transform her local Valence Park, in Barking and Dagenham into an inviting place for all the family to play and be active. London Sport have already supported her to raise £75,000; and with another bid for £150,000 at the final stage; Lisa is turning to the community to crowdfund the final £20,000.
“I’ve been coming here with my children since they were babies, I’ve got photos of them on the swings for the first time and they’ve always really enjoyed it here,” Lisa told London Sport.
“But when, I came here with my local playgroup they were complaining, saying that the equipment was really tired, and there were bits missing.”
Now, there stood broken basketball hoops, a patchwork of worn concrete and dangling chains that once held those swings of such sentimental value to Lisa. Valence Park holds so many positive memories for her, and the many others that continue to use the busy playground, that she couldn’t see that it was in a state that was off-putting for new users.
“I looked around and realised they were right and something needed to be done. It just didn’t feel like it was a very nice place to be and they wouldn’t really want to come back,” said Lisa.
Lisa realised that if she was going to replace the play equipment, then the teenagers deserved a new space to play in too, and there was still little to keep her and the parents and grandparents busy while their children played.
With the help of local charity Community Resources, London Sport and members of the Urban Sports Group like PlayInnovation and The Great Outdoor Gym Company, Lisa embarked in a process of community co-design; meeting and gathering the input of more than 500 local residents on how to make Valence more inviting.
“When I went to one school and told them I wanted to talk about Valence Park, they started cheering and jumping over each other and saying ‘that’s my park, I want to help’”, admits Lisa.
Now with plans for a new playground, surrounded by new electricity generating gym equipment, a basketball court, football goals, and several games walls where families can play together, Lisa hopes that during the upcoming National Park City Week there will be lots of reasons to be active outdoors in Valence Park.