Sports scientists to monitor scheme to increase childhood activity

Camden Council opens first Active Space playground

Camden Council this week launched its first Active Space site at Argyle Primary School in inner London.

Camden has one of the worst obesity rates in London, with one in three 10 year olds in the borough being overweight or obese. The Camden Active Spaces project is a new initiative inspired by the Olympic legacy to create exciting active spaces specifically to increase physical activity in seven schools across the borough.

LUC has been appointed as the designer and landscape architect of bespoke natural play in three of these schools, including Argyle Primary.

‘Our designs for two junior and one secondary school involved creating exciting multi-layered journeys where flat tarmac had previously lain,’ says LUC. ‘Understanding the children and what could make the reluctant mover get active was key to unlocking the power of these small but innovative interventations.’

LUC’s schemes include collaboration with living-willow weaving artist Jim Buchanan, the creation of timber and rope climbing structures and innovative bespoke ‘parkour'-style angled hard wood platforms.

Consultation with the children, staff and parents and carers was integrated throughout the design process, and programme and budget were both very tight, says LUC.

Stephen Russell, policy and public affairs manager at the LI said, 'Our policy activity on public health must be rooted in evidence. This fantastic project, and the exciting research being undertaken to monitor the activity levels of schoolchildren, will hopefully add even more weight to our view that landscape is a vital part of improving health and wellbeing.' 

The Institute of Sport Exercise and Health and University College London are working in partnership with Camden Council to monitor and evaluate the project. Students at each of the schools are taking part in a study to assess the impact of the spaces on their physical activity and health.

Camden Active Spaces is funded by Camden Clinical Commissioning Group and Camden Council and Camden Public Health.  

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