03 Mar 2017

A sensory playground, a youth centre, community garden or a BMX track - local school children are being asked to give their ideas for the future of the red zone.

Three schools in the east of Christchurch - Rāwhiti, Waitākiri and Haeata - have been asked to fill out “Wish this was here…” postcards where they can write or draw what they would like to see in the red zone.  

The postcards are the brainchild of the Avon-Ōtākaro Network. The initiative has the support of Regenerate Christchurch which is developing a plan for the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor. To help with its planning and decision making it wants to hear what young people and their communities need.

At Rāwhiti School in North New Brighton, 12-year-old Kiara Clark, wished for a sensory playground where children with disabilities can play alongside their able-bodied friends. "I was thinking we should have a place where you can smell, listen and feel. It will give people a reason to travel to New Brighton and it will help people who can’t travel to have something they can do here.”

She came up with the idea because her mum is a teacher aide who works with a boy who is deaf and partially sighted. “I thought it would be cool to have a playground for people like him.”

Her schoolmates Isla Hawkyard, 7, and Izzy Harris, 8, came up with another playground idea but theirs is packed with features such as a fishing spot, trampoline, public barbecue, bike track, community garden, fountain and water slide.

They considered adding a mudslide but thought that might be “too mucky”.

At Waitākiri School in Burwood, Francois Klenner, 10, is a fan of BMX riding and thought a dirt bike track should be created for the red zone, which is near his house. “If it’s a BMX track you can use your mountain bike as well.”

Shelby Allan, 10, another Waitākiri student, suggested an indoor youth centre with ping pong tables, a basketball court, a movie room, kitchen, and activities such as lego on offer. There could be a nursery area for smaller children and an outdoor sports fields. Shelby took the idea from a book she had read which featured a kids' centre where "you go and have fun".

Other popular ideas from school children were a market area, a gaming arcade, community orchard and garden, and a reserve for native birds, trees and wildlife.

The “Wish this was here” postcards will be part of the Wild Nature Corner at Children’s Day celebrations this Sunday from 11am until 3pm on the corner of New Brighton Rd and Locksley Ave. The Wild Nature Corner will have live fish, native plants, nature’s treasure hunts, tepee building with natural materials and a sensory table.

It will be staffed by Avon-Ōtākaro Network and Christchurch City Council Parks Unit, along with representatives from other local groups. Children will get the chance to fill out the postcards and they will be pinned up to create a River of Ideas. After the event they will be shared with Regenerate Christchurch and made available to the public. 

The Children’s Day party will feature a climbing tower, bouncy castle and pony rides. It coincides with Parks Week(external link) which runs from this Saturday until the following Sunday.