Paddys Park Play Day events put the community front and centre
While Ginninderry may be one of Canberra’s newest regions, it’s also becoming one of the most connected. That’s thanks in part to a consistent series of community initiatives, such as the Paddys Park Play Day events, that have become part of the fabric of Ginninderry’s social life.
Inspired by the ‘play outside movement’, these events encourage people to leave their screens and head outside into shared spaces to connect with their neighbours and others in their area.
The first Play Day event took place in April this year, with the Kippax Uniting Church, Capital Region Community Services and local artists working together to bring Easter-inspired activities to life.
The momentum continued into May, where a kite flying event saw 80 locals joining in on a day of crafts, laughter and creativity. It was such a success that Kite Flying became the central element of the spring Paddys Park Play Day events where 200 residents gathered to, yet again, fly a kite! For Community Development Manager, Tulitha, it showcased the enthusiasm locals have toward these organised events.
“Everyone absolutely loved it. It was amazing to see people of all ages and nationalities sprinkled across the park flying their kites together. People even continued to fly them after we packed up in the afternoon, which was so heart-warming to see.”
As the Paddys Park Play Days have continued to grow in size, so too has the input from the community. The recent Diwali event allowed residents to become an integral part of the planning process – sealing its future success and inspiring even greater participation.
“All of these events are about trying to get residents involved. With the Diwali event, we reached out to see if there were people who could help us with planning. Several residents put their hand up to help plan and, hopefully, run the event next year.” says Tulitha.
This year’s Diwali saw over 150 residents connecting, dancing, and enjoying Rangoli, Henna Art and Día painting with Julie, a local artist from the Strathnairn Arts Association.
“The Rangoli activity was entirely resident-based – they brought their own supplies and helped to run the event just using what they already had at home,” reflects Tulitha, “this is what we’d like to see more of at Ginninderry, with us taking a back step and supporting these community driven activities.”
Through these events, long-term networks between neighbours have started to form.
Ryan Scifleet from Capital Region Community Services has played a critical role in fostering these relationships – navigating community development with an open mind and a strong willingness to listen.
“We’re really looking at what lasting impact we can provide, knowing that we need to step back at certain points and always keeping that in perspective. At the end of the day, we are developing a community, we are connecting a community – and that approach is infinitely more sustainable in the long term,” reflects Ryan.
So, what does the future hold for the Paddys Park Play Day events? That all depends on those who live here. As Ryan explains, Capital Region Community Services are not there to drive their ideas but rather welcome and support residents to shape their own community.
“In terms of where it goes, we really don’t know. But what I do know is that we will be consulting the community to see what they want. If they want them to go bigger, that’s perfect – we can support them in that, but if they want more frequent smaller events, we can support them in that too. That approach is what is going to continue growing a successful community in this area,” says Ryan.
For Community Development Manager Tulitha King, it has been rewarding to see how quickly this approach at Ginninderry has united people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds.
“All of our community events are super family-friendly and are designed to cater for the whole spectrum, from the toddler to the grandparent. We also make sure that they are inclusive for the wide range of cultures we have living in Ginninderry,” says Tulitha.