19th October 2023
Excitement and anticipation filled the air as funders and families came together at two events to celebrate the formal opening of our new inclusive playground, based at our centre in Stoke Park, Guildford.
Funder’s thank you event
We were joined by the new playground’s funders for an evening event on Thursday 5th October to show them the exciting facilities they have enabled Challengers to build, and to thank them for their generous support. Speeches were given by the Chair of Surrey County Council, representing Your Fund Surrey which gave a significant amount towards to Big Play Appeal which funded the playground build, as well as Challengers CEO Gen Dearman who thanked funders, supporters and everyone who has played a part in the design and build of playground.
Paralympian and Challengers Patron Rachel Morris MBE also spoke about her involvement in the project, which she shared with fellow Patron Peter Gordon who compered the event. As a wheelchair user herself, Rachel emphasised the significance of the We-Go-Swing in enabling children of all abilities to come together and play, reducing social isolation for disabled children.
A huge thank you to our funders:
- Your Fund Surrey
- The Albert Hunt Trust
- The Beatrice Laing Trust
- The Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation
- The Dorothy Pamela Smith Charity
- The Edward Gostling Foundation
- Leo Lion Foundation
- The Mark Benevolent Fund
- Matthew 25:35 Trust
- The Shanly Foundation
- The Wheelwrights’ Charity
Opening party for families
Laughter filled the air on Sunday 8th October as children and families came to explore our new playground for themselves. Children of all abilities came together to play, forming new friendships and creating unforgettable memories…which is what Challengers is all about!
The celebrations continued with a range of activities including face painting, a Build-A-Bear station, games, delicious pizza from Fire and Base, and plenty of cake! They also enjoyed live music performances from the Wholenotes Choir and our very own Head of Service Paul Wilson, who finished his set with karaoke thanks to some budding pop stars.
It was such a wonderful day, made even more joyous by the warm and sunny weather, that CEO Gen proclaimed that this would be the start of an annual event – watch this space!
Creating a culture of inclusivity
Our new playground is a versatile space which takes inspiration from the picturesque Surrey Hills and is equipped with features designed to facilitate fun and adventure for disabled and non-disabled children alike.
It boasts a wide array of inclusive and accessible equipment, offering opportunities for climbing, sliding, bouncing, sensory and imaginative play, as well as the UK’s first We-Go-Swing which caters to wheelchair and non-wheelchair simultaneously, eliminating the need for a separate wheelchair-accessible area which prevents disabled children from being included in play with non-disabled peers.
We are so proud of our new playground and what it represents, and know that it represents a monumental stride forward in inclusive play.
We want to extend the biggest orange thank you to everyone who supported the build of our new playground – we couldn’t have done it without you!
Together we have created a space where all children can play, connect, and thrive. We hope that our new playground will inspire other providers to build inclusive playground in other areas, and make our society a more inclusive place.