1970 The First Adventure Playground
The first adventure playground for disabled children inspired by the late Lady Allen of Hurtwood
Lady Allen of Hurtwood had campaigned successfully all her life for the welfare of children and was instrumental in the influential Curtis Report and the passing of the Children’s Act of 1948. After the war, she, with like- minded colleagues, established the first adventure playground in London in Lollard Street. This was followed by many more, built on open spaces, often on bomb sites. Using waste materials, they became known as “junk playgrounds.” Lady Allen later formed the London Adventure Playground Association known as LAPA.
Mrs Mary Pearce and Mrs Sophie Levitt, two physiotherapists at the Cheyne Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy in Chelsea, were determined to provide a place where disabled children could play. Enlisting Lady Allen’s help and wide experience, and inspired by her example and leadership, they formed The Handicapped Adventure Playground Association (HAPA) in 1966, of which Lady Allen was Chair, with the aim of building a special adventure playground for disabled children. The first of these playgrounds opened in Chelsea in 1970 and was followed in the next few years by four others in Islington, Wandsworth, Fulham and Lambeth. Visitors from across the UK and abroad came to see the playgrounds and what they had to offer children with disabilities and their families.
With time and changing attitudes, local authorities began to recognise their responsibility for funding playgrounds for disabled children and encouraged play facilities which included all children.
As the term handicapped fell out of favour, HAPA, in 1999, adopted a new name to become Kidsactive, reflecting a more outward and inclusive approach. Then, in 2003, Kidsactive merged with KIDS to the benefit of both charities. Please see the 2003 Merging with Kidsactive milestone for more information