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Pop-Up Play Shop

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Polly March Polly March | 15:33 UK time, Friday, 28 October 2011

Trailing round the shops with the kids is not everybody's idea of a relaxing Saturday, particularly if any amount of hunger, crowds and bad weather are involved. But a new venture which sees empty shop fronts turned into craft spaces for all to enjoy could be about to change all that.

The Pop-Up Play Shop

The Pop-Up Play Shop. Photo: Suzanna Law

A pop-up play shop has opened in Cardiff city centre with the aim of offering a public space for youngsters (and oldsters) to be creative together.

Free of charge, it boasts a wide choice of arts materials, most of which are recycled, and a place where the imagination is king.

The brains behind the outfit is playworker Morgan Leichter-Saxby who, before moving to Cardiff, worked in Tower Hamlets in London, creating outdoor play spaces for youngsters.

She says: "Kids need more opportunities for unstructured play which they can also involve their parents in if they want.

"We see ourselves as supporting long-term change in family relationships; giving parents and their children time and space to play together and create something, either together or independently. We want to offer support without leading and attention without intrusion.

"This is crucial in playwork where there are no fixed ideas from the adults as to the outcome, the kids are in charge and this project gives families the space to do this. This gives children the opportunity to get good at something and have it recognised."

A den in the shop

A den in the shop. Photo: Morgan Leichter-Saxby/ www.popupplayshop.org

The theory behind the venture is that play is at the very heart of communities and children have a right to it. It is an arm of the global social enterprise Pop Up Adventure Play.

The play shop is located on the lower level of Queens Arcade, between New Look and Supercuts, and offers an inviting space where children can pick from a range of materials sourced by Re-Create, Cardiff’s play resource centre.

Re-Create collects re-usable waste and surplus material from factories, craft shops and firms all over south Wales, so items that may be one man’s waste become the framework of a child’s imagined castle, ocean, spaceship or galaxy. This saves them from reaching landfill.The project has been created in partnership with Re-Create with start-up funding from the Cymorth Small Play Grants Programme.

The Cardiff shop opened on 1 October and is currently open from Thursday to Saturday every week, from 11am to 6pm and will be open during half terms and school holidays.

Marianne Mannello, Assistant Director at Play Wales which recently hosted the 50th Anniversary International Play Association Conference said, "The Pop-Up Play Shop will support children and parents to make the most of what is often readily available and it will go some way in demonstrating that given time, space and permission, children will play anywhere."

For more information on the Pop-up Play Shop visit www.popupplayshop.org and for more information on the enterprise as a whole visit www.popupadventureplay.org.


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