RAF play park to help cop­ing with iso­la­tion

‘Tough time’ for chil­dren with par­ents in the air force

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

CHIL­DREN liv­ing at RAF Northolt will ben­e­fit from a play park to com­bat ‘iso­la­tion’, thanks to the RAF Benev­o­lent Fund.

Swake­ley’s Play Park was opened at the air­base to pro­vide a safe place for chil­dren of RAF par­ents to spend time with oth­ers grow­ing up in the same en­vi­ron­ment.

The Play Park forms part of Air­play, an RAF Benev­o­lent Fund­spon­sored ini­tia­tive which en­cour­ages youths of all ages to take part in an ar­ray of so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, with vol­un­teers at RAF Northolt help­ing to en­sure that the pro­gramme is suc­cess­ful.

Re­gional di­rec­tor Paul Hew­son said, “The RAF Benev­o­lent Fund re­alises that chil­dren grow­ing up on RAF sta­tions are of­ten in iso­lated lo­ca­tions, and may have to over­come a num­ber of chal­lenges.

“Some­times the mother, father or in­deed both can be de­ployed over­seas, which is re­ally tough for the chil­dren.

“Such chil­dren can strug­gle to find the con­fi­dence to so­cialise with oth­ers, even though many oth­ers might be feel­ing the same emo­tions. Air­play is de­signed to help chil­dren over­come such ob­sta­cles, and pro­vide a ded­i­cated stim­u­lat­ing range of ac­tiv­i­ties – from dance classes to mu­ral paint­ing.

“It’s the per­fect way for chil­dren to play in a safe en­vi­ron­ment, de­spite all that is go­ing on around them.”

The RAF Benev­o­lent Fund has pledged £24 mil­lion to their Air­play ini­tia­tive, the only pro­ject of its kind for ser­vice fam­i­lies, pro­vid­ing Air­play parks, Air­play youth sup­port and Air­play child­care cen­tres.

Sally Cawdery of Wing Com­man­der, which sup­ports RAF Northolt of­fi­cers, said: “The launch of Swake­ley’s Play Park is great news for the fam­i­lies that live here.

“Pro­vid­ing a rich and re­ward­ing pro­gramme of ac­tiv­i­ties for our kids is a very valu­able thing, and we are very grate­ful to the RAF Benev­o­lent Fund for help­ing this pro­ject come to light.”

Meg Mur­ray, a par­ent, said: “The park is such a great ad­di­tion to the com­mu­nity. It will make my life so much eas­ier – as a mum of two and a child­min­der too it re­ally helps bring the com­mu­nity to­gether around here and the kids just love it, play­ing games and hav­ing fun. It’s been bril­liant.”

To find out more about Air­play and see how you can help, visit www.rafbf. orf/air­play.

n AIR­PLAY: Chil­dren and adults have fun at the open­ing of the new play park

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