Friday, 27 March 2015

Bing Bunny comes to Soho!

In advance of the imminent DVD release, MN Hackney & Waltham Forest (and family) was very lucky indeed to be invited to attend the screening of easily our sons' favourite CBeebies show ‘Bing'. For those of you who aren't familiar, this is a delightfully gentle TV series following the adventures of a little black rabbit called Bing and his carer Flop (voiced by Mark Rylance) celebrating the noisy, joyful messy reality of being a pre-schooler. Based on the book series by Ted Dewan this groundbreaking series is not just aimed at young children but also, quite refreshingly, the grown-ups in their lives. 

Usually any invite to an event that involves viewing anything for longer than 20 minutes just reminds us that actually regardless of time, we will be leaving after 20 minutes as our little ones' concentration span will have already long departed. So it was with slightly anxious anticipation we sat down in the private cinema of the Soho Hotel to watch a marathon 10 episodes of Bing's escapades.

However, it was with some relief that consistently after each program, youngest shouted his usual one word response of ‘Again’ and each new episode was accompanied with squeals of delight. The highlight was easily the episode starring 'Brenda the blender' which we hadn't seen before and we have been merrily making banana smoothies ever since (we are yet to successfully include a carrot though).

Needless to say we already have Bing full ensconced as a TV staple in our home however, if you would like to join us then pre-order your DVD HERE

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Hackney children partake in thousands of extra hours of activity thanks to Play Streets.

A pioneering Hackney project to get children playing outside in the streets and estates where they live has reached more than 1,600 youngsters and led to thousands of hours of activity, an independent report by a children's play expert shows.

Parents volunteering to run the scheme, called Play Streets, said it is helping create a greater sense of community and making streets feel friendlier and safer, the report by writer and researcher Tim Gill says.

He presented the key findings at a formal reception held in Hackney on the 27th February, involving some of the residents who volunteer as organisers, councillors and partner organisations.

The report shows that in the 12-month period until September 2014, the project has:
  • Led to 380 hours of street play sessions in 29 locations that have reached around 1,600 children and nearly 800 families.
  • Supported 8,100 hours of children's physical activity – equivalent to 14 extra term-time classes of PE lessons.
  • Caused drivers minimal disruption, with an average of nine cars affected per session.
  • Recruited and supported parents to run Play Streets across most parts of Hackney, including areas of disadvantage.
  • Assisted three schools and a children's centre to run termly Play Streets at the end of the school day.
  • Supported parents in three estates to run play sessions.
  • Revealed a strong consensus among organisers about the perceived benefits for children, families and communities – especially in terms of improving social interaction among neighbours, and giving children more freedom and choice in how they play.
    A group of local Councillors and play street organisers

Tim Gill said: "This report shows that Play Streets are not just a popular, effective way to get many more children playing outdoors and being active. They also have the potential to transform the way people feel about their neighbourhoods. I suspect that councils across the country will be looking to follow Hackney's lead in promoting the idea."

Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: "Growing up in the city can be tough for children which is why we have made it as easy as possible for parents, schools and estates to close residential roads near them in order to get youngsters outdoors and running around.

"Play Streets has been a resounding success, helping to get more children physically active, creating tighter-knit communities and making our neighbourhoods more liveable. I would like to thank all those who have been involved and look forward to seeing more Play Streets around Hackney."

The full report also indicates residents are broadly accepting of the scheme.

Hackney Council's Health and Wellbeing Board commissioned Hackney Play Association, a local charity, to deliver the Play Streets project.

The charity provided training, mentoring and practical support for residents and schools wanting to start a Play Street. As of February 2015, there are 32 Play Streets in Hackney.
During the sessions, children ride bikes and scooters, bring out and share their own toys and take part in games of yesteryear like hopscotch, chalking and skipping.
Zoe Eisenstein, a resident organiser in Clapton, said: "The scheme has strengthened the sense of community, and has been a stepping stone for other community groups, including a park user group. It is an amazing initiative with the potential to work magic."

If you would like look into turning your road into a play street one afternoon just click HERE.