Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)
Woolomin is a rural village located in North West slopes of NSW. It’s home to just 279 residents, including many families, but there is no public playground for the children to play at.
Many young families in Woolomin have limited capacity to travel to larger centres for sport and recreation, due to the costs associated and lack of public transport. Children were increasingly using the streets to play in, and this was problematic, with the main road through the centre of town being quite busy with traffic (connecting Tamworth to popular tourist destinations including Nundle and Chaffey Dam).
It was clear that developing a safe place for children to play, and along the way helping to combat social isolation in the village, was a community priority.
Tamworth Regional Council, in partnership with the Woolomin Recreation Reserve Committee (WRRC), took on the challenge, working together to come up with a plan that would make their community stronger and more socially connected.
Consisting of 12 members, supported by an additional 10 passionate volunteers, WRRC was established in 2004 to develop Woolomin Recreation Reserve as an important hub to the Village, and they’ve since made a range of improvements for the community – the playground project was next.
The two organisations applied for FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together program, and were thrilled to hear that they had received a $59,000 grant, thanks to generous funding by the Australian Governement and Stockland CARE Foundation. At the time of applying, Woolomin was fully drought-declared.
With the new funding to install a playground at the local recreation reserve, they got to work, but not before consulting with those who would benefit most from the project – the local kids.
Woolomin Public School children played an integral part in designing the play area through their input into the type of equipment that would be installed. They actually started drawing up plans in mid 2018! The children’s requests were limited only by their imagination, and can be read in their letters to council here. While not every request was possible (zip lines, merry-go-rounds, monorail, a fairy floss fountain, mango trees, skate park and a Beyblade stadium were all put forward, as well as more traditional playground equipment!) it was clear that they put a lot of thought into their submissions.
One student wrote:
“In the park I would like to see a lots of trees, plants, shade shelters, seating, a bike rack and things that can help the environment.”
The final design includes components which encourage fine-motor skill play, gross-motor skill play and imaginative play as well as promoting an accessible and inclusive space for children of all abilities.
There’s nothing stopping these creative Woolomin kids from adding to the playground in the future so that it’s all they desire. For the meantime, it’s clear from their letters that it will bring important benefits.
“A park in Woolomin would make me very happy because it would give me a place to go to calm down and stuff.”
“Thank you for building in Woolomin as it will help the kids be active.”
“Thankyou if you build it. It will be so much fun and help people meet others.”
A number of visitors to the community are accessing the playground, and the local community feedback is very positive. A neighbouring land holder commented that it is “just lovely to hear the children laughing and having fun, I have seen mum reading the paper in the sun and the children on the play equipment.”
The playground has created the opportunity to draw family and community members to a central spot in their community, to spend time together, play and provide a sense of connection and wellbeing.
Well done Woolomin!