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That's the playground I want

WHEN Dorothy Gregory, head of the Walkergate early years centre in Newcastle, wanted to create a new pound;5,000 playground, she turned to the real experts: the three-and four-year-olds who play in them.

Mrs Gregory wanted to create a separate area where under-twos could sit, crawl or toddle, safe from the older, more boisterous children who shared their playground.

"We showed the children pictures of different equipment and gave them piles of pennies, so they could see that if they spent the pennies on one thing then they would not have any left for something else," she said.

The children's suggestions included a computer and a swimming pool, a sandpit, toy bricks and a tunnel. The sandpit has been included in the final design, with a play house, a covered area and some push-along toys.

Sadly, a swimming pool does not feature.

"People talk about consulting children," said Mrs Gregory, "but it can be quite tokenistic. We have tried to make it real and relevant to the children. And, as in any consultation, they discovered that you do not always get what you suggest."

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