THE EVERGREEN STORY
Originally a rough little bit of land, in 1972 the local community came together to build the first Evergreen playground. Evergreen (formally Adventure Playground) was formed by a group of parents who wanted somewhere for their kids to play. Originally funded by the council and LAPA (London Adventure Playground Association) it was created in a large estate which had no play facilities. In the old days it had a swing, a few walkways, a big slide and no soft surfaces. The parents who used to attend tell us, it was laid out as a ship!
Even from the early days, Evergreen attracted a lot of children. Around 500 children used to come to play, and parents would know their children were safe.
In the late 1990s, the regeneration of the estate led to the regeneration of the playground. Shell volunteers came and regenerated the playground for a week in the mid-1990s. The whole playground got changed. No longer a flat, the playground was landscaped, and the entrance was opened into the Estate. Evergreen continued to attract more and more children, with around 700 kids heading down to the playground.
In the summer holidays of the 1990s, numbers continued to increase. Of course, health and safety checks were different. Children didn’t have to sign in, the support workers made their own tick lists, and someone would just work out the numbers. What this shows us though, is that there are nearly the same amount of kids coming through the gate now as there were in the 1990s.
In 2002, Evergreen began to attract special needs children. The parents were often nervous about the playground at first. Not for long however, as their kids continued to prove their capabilities through play – especially climbing! While there had always been children with additional needs, in summer of 2002 there were 9 children with special needs. Evergreen became the only playground in the area which had support workers for children with disabilities. To this day, Evergreen continues to positively support children with disabilities – that’s the large part of what the funding is needed for. In 2018, Evergreen supported 43 children with special needs.