Case study: Splash community stencils
Painting tamariki-designed games makes for fun and inviting play-on-the way.
Through workshops and community feedback, we know that the Whanganui community value play and are interested in more opportunities that increase play at existing spaces. The Sport Whanganui office overlooks the Whanganui Splash Centre and staff identified an opportunity to activate an area where school groups often gather while waiting for the bus after swimming. Sport Whanganui had recently acquired a set of playground stencils that had successfully been used to activate a schoolground and felt they would work in a community space too.
After consultation with the Splash Centre manager, 120m of footpath was identified as available for painting. Sport Whanganui’s Healthy Active Learning (HAL) team approached two schools that often use the Splash for swimming lessons to help design and create an ideal play space. Six students from the two
schools attended a session with the HAL team to explore possible use of the space.
At this session, students were introduced to the stencils and how they have been used in other places. They then went for a walk around the Splash Centre to brainstorm games that could be played there. Some considerations included the need for some games to encourage the flow of the footpath while other areas were more flexible. The tamariki came back for a painting session two days later. This was very exciting and though progress was a bit slower than anticipated, the tamariki were keen to come back for a second painting session during the holidays.
The 120m of footpath are now activated with nine different games, including hopscotch, a maze and animal footprints to hop along. The Splash Centre sees 188,775 visitors every year (averaged over four years up to mid-2022), nearly all of whom pass over the newly stenciled footpaths to access the pool.
Random site observations identified that 51% of tamariki crossing the stencils actively interact with them. Feedback from tamariki and their parents has been positive, suggesting that this is an effective and low cost way to activate play in community spaces.