Community stories: 22 December 2020
Saddleworth in South Australia is a small rural town with a big heart. With less than 500 people, it’s a tight-knit community where the residents easily walk from one end of town to the next in 20 minutes.
The town has faced some hardships in recent years, making it difficult for locals to access basic recreational sites that larger towns could enjoy easily. With a high number of low-income families living in the area, most without cars, it has become increasingly important to have an accessible and safe playground in Saddleworth for kids to enjoy.
For over 77 years, the Saddleworth Lawn Tennis Club has been providing the town with facilities for sporting events and recreational activities. The Club is located on the Saddleworth War Memorial Community Centre, and honours those who lost their lives in World War II. The Club features the only publically accessible playground in the area, providing play and entertainment for nearby families.
The small playground that was in desperate need of an upgrade, as the equipment was becoming non-compliant, and was at risk of being removed entirely. The playground was also sitting in direct sunlight, making it difficult for kids to enjoy playing on hot days when UV levels were extraordinarily high.
After losing their local supermarket to a fire in 2016, the community was feeling deflated, having lost a major asset to their town. However, when the Club decided to fundraise the amount needed to improve the playground, over 20 volunteers put their hands up to help out, and six local businesses offered their support.
The team applied for the FRRR Small Grants for Rural Communities grant, which provided $5,000 for stage one of the playground upgrade. These funds paid for a new shade cover the playground, that will ensure kids can continue to enjoy the area even on sunny days, and not just the early morning or late afternoons as they had become accustom to.
Stage two of the upgrade encompassed replacing some of the equipment on the playground, including a garden border, softfall and bench for families to enjoy, while they sit under the shade sail. The work was carried out by local volunteers. The community can now enjoy their local playground and the newly refurbished facilities.
With summer well under way, the Club has more Junior Teams attending, with more children looking for some entertainment while their siblings play tennis. The new playground is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, and has created a real impact amongst the community.