Crowdfunding project now aims to raise £20,000
A Merton Park school has created what is believed to be the UK's first ever scooter park for young children which will be enjoyed both by pupils and the local community.
The new scooter park in Mostyn Gardens, next to Poplar Primary School, has more than 200 metres of pathways where children can let off steam, keep fit and learn to scoot safely.
It was launched on March 30 when more than 600 pupils took part in a duathlon – scooting and running – aiming to raise £20,000 for the second phase of the initiative.
Jonathan and Alistair Brownlee - the Olympic Triathlon medalists - have associated themselves with the project and already pledged £1,000 through their charity, The Brownlee Foundation.
Headteacher Katharine Davies said the idea for the scooter park came after the school’s recent expansion.
“As part of the work, an access road was created across an underused corner of the adjacent park, Mostyn Gardens. We thought we would really love to do something with that area and create something for pupils and the local community.
“We noticed that lots of young children came to school on their scooters. That led to the idea of the scooter park. Merton Council kindly agreed that we could go ahead, with the local community being able to enjoy it outside of school hours.
“The design includes undulating pathways to give interest plus a race track. There will also be a small ‘village’ area with pretend garage and shops for role play and imaginary play activities.
“We also wish to create a more attractive area with plans to plant bluebells, snowdrops and spring bulbs, to enhance the natural habitat.
“The children who have tried it so far have loved it. It demands quite a lot of energy to keep scooting and it all goes to support an active and healthy lifestyle. We’re even going to get them a chequered flag for their races which the older children can supervise.
“On paths in parks you get dog walkers and cyclists but here the children can just scoot. As well as keeping fit it will help us to promote scooter safety and road awareness, such as when to stop at a junction.”
“We have not been able to find another park of this nature in the UK – it is quite unique and we imagine that it will be very popular.”
The scooter park has so far cost £60,000, with the school raising £30,000 and the SUEZ Communities Trust, which supports community and environmental improvement projects through the Landfill Communities Fund, donating a further £30,000.
The park will be used by the school between 10am and 3pm but will be open to the community at other times including weekends and during school holidays.
Merton’s Cabinet member for education, Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah, said: “Using the scooter park will be an excellent way for children to stay healthy and will help with their learning skills. Exercise keeps children alert, better at problem solving and ready to learn.”
“We think it is brilliant what you are doing. It’s just what we want to encourage – getting kids active and outside,” said Jonny Brownlee.
Pupils have already given the scooter park the thumbs up.
Ewan said: “When you are going over the bumps it feels like you’re zooming over hills and valleys.”
Maia said: “This scooter park is really sporty and keeps me fit.”
And Taylor added: “I love the up and down bit because it’s like going on an adventure!”
The link to the project's crowdfund-raising website is here: https://www.spacehive.com/poplar-scoot.
If it reaches its target it will fund the following by May:
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April 3, 2017