THIS week’s feature focuses on St Barnabas C of E Primary School which has opened its new outdoor play area. The outdoor facility was opened on January 30 by teachers, class reps and customer team members from Co-Op, who helped support the project.

Sarah Hanson, headteacher at the school in Green Lane, said: “18 months ago I applied to become the Co-ops community asset fund recipient. Our parents and families have supported the Co-op so it has helped the store. It’s also been good for our children because they have supported us in so many different ways.

“We decided we wanted to build an outdoor play area. I wanted the ramp to be tied into the play area. I want the ramp to be about every child and inclusivity.

“We are trying to find as many different ways as possible to encourage our children to be active, take exercise and to enjoy playing outside in the fresh air. There’s lots of research into mental health and wellbeing linked into exercise.”

Imogen Waytt, aged 11 said: “The new area is really fun. It will help people get more fit. It’s for everyone at the school and it will help build friendships.”

Josh Tally, aged 11 said: “The outdoor area is good and will keep us healthy and happy.”

There’s a variety of different sports activities to take part in at the school including rugby, football, cricket, hockey, tennis, jump rope, basketball and the daily mile.

The daily mile track was built last year. The children have to do eight laps to complete a mile a day which is encouraged at the school to promote their wellbeing. They can walk, jog or run. The record any child has done is 37 laps during one lunchtime.

The outdoor play area cost £27,000 to build. The PTA friends raised £3,500 which was spent on the apparatus. The school received £10,000 from the local authority to build a ramp for children with disabilities. Around £7,000 was raised from the Co-op, and the rest of the money was donated by Sport Premium.

Playtime by Fawns also worked closely with the school during the process to design, manufacture and install all of the the new play equipment including the mile a day track, and also assisted with the fundraising efforts. 

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Karen Robinson, from Co-op in Barker Street, said: “It’s nice being able to see what our store can do for our local school.

“The money raised is split. Members choose where the money goes. The money goes to the organisation with the most votes. Every year a different charity benefits from the cash raised.”

Diane Houghton, also from Co-op, added: “It’s lovely to see what the Co-op has achieved for these children. We get to know the parents of the children and the teachers come in locally to the store. It’s like a community-based hub.”

“You get to watch the children grow up over the years. It’s marvellous what’s been achieved here for the children.

“I am amazed how much money we have managed to get to help. School struggle with funding so it’s great a store can do this kind of thing to help.

“We were invited here for the opening which makes us feel appreciated.”

The money raised was from Co-Op members who spent at the store and had chosen which organisation to support. One per cent of what they spend goes into the community funds.