Happy 50th Birthday Milton Keynes Play Association!

Local teacher Emma Norris has written a piece celebrating the Milton Keynes Play Association as the charitable organisation celebrates its 50th birthday.

Having been a teacher of Primary-age students for several years now, the importance of child-centred play (both within and outside of the school day) is, in my opinion, increasingly significant in maintaining the wellbeing and positive mental health of children, especially in these uncertain times.

Milton Keynes Play Association has been an integral part of the community of Milton Keynes for over 49 years and will be, this year, celebrating their 50th birthday. In fact, MKPA is one of the longest-running charitable organisations in the local area, providing inclusive, high-quality play opportunities in an open and accessible environment. They also provide low-cost resources and equipment through their Scrapstore, collecting clean recyclable waste from local companies, where it can be put to good use by local playgroups, schools, community groups and ultimately any other MKPA member. There has been many-a-time when I’ve popped by to pick up an item that’s been integral to some off-the-cuff DT lesson or extended project, and the shop has near-enough always had that ‘something’ I’m after!

MKPA continues to be entirely dedicated to the children and families of Milton Keynes. Many of the young people who serve as seasonal play workers now have travelled through the ranks themselves, having seen the benefits as children, and have given the charity insight into activity ideas for the future. However, as Milton Keynes itself has continued to rapidly grow and develop, the funding for the charity was cut and staff numbers were forced to reduce. Alongside this reduction in funding, MK Play Association, as with many other businesses, charities and individuals, has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.

Even with the pandemic putting pay to face-to-face events, the organisation has continued to provide residents of MK and the surrounding area access to these low-cost materials on a no-contact basis – families have been able to order a craft box by email, provide a suggested donation and collect their box from the Scrapstore Car Park at Kiln Farm. The team has also been busy creating worksheets and how-to videos to help parents support their children with imaginative play, during periods of home-learning, whilst schools have been closed to all but vulnerable and key-worker children.

Thankfully, now restrictions are starting to lift, the Scrap and Retail Store is back open selling their vast array of play and crafting products and MKPA have also relaunched their child-led play sessions; after the great success of the Easter play programme, there are plans in place for more during the May half-term.

They do, however, need your support. MKPA are asking people to donate just £5 to help them reach their target of £50,000 by their 50th anniversary this year. This money will ultimately keep the charity running – it will be used to help source materials to create craft boxes for the young people of Milton Keynes and also allow the hosting of essential training sessions to continue, which are integral to keep children safe in the community.

If you would like to support this organisation and give a £5 donation to MKPA, please visit their Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/SaveMKPA

If you would like to become a member and gain access to the benefits of MKPA, such as the professional play service, reduced rates for training courses and full access to the Scrapstore, please join today: https://www.mkpa.co.uk/product-category/membership/

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