A MOTHER has spoken of the need for a new playground for Burley-in-Wharfedale as fundraising for the venture tops £30,000.

As part of the Burley-in-Wharfedale Playground Project, founder Rachael Robinson asked her friend, Sarah Brooks, to write about her daughter Enid's experiences of play in their village.

Six-year-old Enid has global development delay, which means she is only just learning to walk, can't talk and has profound learning difficulties. Because of her disabilities, the current playground is sadly off limits.

Sarah said: "Because of her level of need, Enid attends the ‘local’ special school. This is 11 miles away from our village.

"It is the best place educationally and developmentally for her, but it does mean she is removed from her mainstream peers within the village and the wider community.

"The playground should be a space where Enid can integrate with other local children. But she can’t. She can’t use our village playground.

"When she was younger, we used to prop her up in the baby swings, but she’s too big for these now. And she isn’t able yet to understand the concept of ‘hold on’ for the bigger swings, so we can’t really risk her on those.

"The climbing frame has big gaps she will just fall down. The spinning ‘metal bucket’ has a tiny drainage, hole which means it is usually full of water. As are the bottom of the slides. And on a good day, when the equipment might actually be dry, the ground is usually still fairly sodden – no good for a child that can only independently move around on her knees.

"So, we rarely attempt to take Enid to the playground. Which means she is excluded from the one area in the village where she could meet other children, play and maybe even make some friends. Where she could be part of the community.

"And it isn’t just Enid. Enid has three younger sisters. So, they rarely get to go to the playground either. A playground is a taken-for-granted part of most childhoods. But not for Enid and her sisters. They ask to go. They ask to go a lot. Invariably, though, they know the answer will be no."

Rachael added: "Of course it's important Burley-in-Wharfedale Playground soon becomes a place where all children can be free to play and feel they belong.

"But what is even more important to me is that the lack of inclusive equipment in playgrounds nationwide is addressed. Enid is one child in one village. There must be thousands of children all over the UK who are excluded from their very own community because the facilities aren't adapted to their needs."

The aim is to raise £100,000 by the end of 2016 for a new playground and, as well as fundraising, Rachael has submitted grant applications to WREN for £50,000 and to Tesco in Ilkley for their Bags of Help Scheme. Several fundraising events are coming up, including an online auction beginning on July 16. Visit https://auctionofpromises.com/BurleyPlayProject for details or http://burleyplayground.azurewebsites.net/ and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BurleyPlay for further information about the campaign.

lWhat do you think? We welcome letters on this or any other subject. E-mail richard.parker@nqyne.co.uk or write to the Content Editor, Ilkley Gazette and Wharfedale Observer, 38 High Street, Skipton BD23 1JU. Please include your full name, address and daytime telephone number.