Play park opens for Aylsham teenagers

Victoria LeggettPlay parks are usually places where parents take their tiny tots to kill some time.Now a new one has opened in Aylsham - aimed at the rather more discerning taste of teenagers.Victoria Leggett

Play parks are usually places where parents take their tiny tots to kill some time.

Now a new one has opened in Aylsham - aimed at the rather more discerning taste of teenagers.

Town teens will rediscover the joys of slides, swings and climbing frames at the Smile Park, which will be officially opened this weekend.

It is the creation of a group of parents determined to entertain youths and clean up an area labelled an anti-social hotspot by police.

The recreation ground, on Sir Williams Lane, now boasts two play areas packed with equipment which appeals to everyone from toddlers to teens, but was once a 'no-go area for families'.

Amy White, a member of the Smile Park committee, said: 'There was lots of drinking, criminal damage. It was a hang- out spot for teenagers in the evenings and there wasn't very much for them to do. Kids and families were avoiding it; now you go up there and there are mums and dads and families.'

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On Saturday, the �175,000 park, funded through a range of grants and sponsors, will be officially opened.

It includes equipment aimed at over-12s - requested by teens from Aylsham High School - like bar slides, a skate ramp, buddy swings and sociable seating.

Mrs White, who has two children aged eight and four, said the committee had come up against critics who felt they were wasting their time. She said: 'We did get some criticism from people saying it would get wrecked, it would be on fire within a week, but I've seen groups of children picking up other people's litter.'

She added: 'This is proving they do want to be going outside and playing on parks. Every time I go up there, there are 30-plus children playing on the equipment.'

All local children are invited to the opening ceremony which takes place at 11am on Saturday.

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