Short in stature but big on adventure, Oli Towse knows a good playground when he sees it.
The Cordeaux Heights three-year-old has a genetic condition that renders him about the same size as an 18-month-old.
His mother, Jemma Towse, is used to helping him every step of the way on playground equipment, but not so on Saturday, when the family visited Port Kembla’s newly made-over Allan Street precinct.
“A lot of the parks around, because he’s so little, he can’t actually access anything … whereas with this one - once he did it there was no stopping him,” Ms Towse said. “It’s a great park for him to be able to gain independence.”
The playground was unveiled as part of a community event celebrating a dramatic overhaul - the result of a seven-day makeover led by “professional placemaker” David Engwicht from Creative Communities, which aims to “empower communities to create extraordinary places in just seven days, without endless talk and on a shoestring budget.”
Port Kembla resident Jess Whitaker was among the volunteers who helped to transform the park.
“It was a really old playground where I think people mostly shot up heroin,” she said. “We found so many syringes when we were cleaning it out – it wasn’t really somewhere you’d hang out with your kids.”
With a budget of $5000, the playground incorporates many recycled and re-purposed materials.
It is the first in NSW to experience the seven-day makeover, supported by Wollongong City Council. The project is linked to Council and the State Government’s investment in Port Kembla and is one of 14 projects funded through round one of the Port Kembla Community Investment Fund.