For several months at work my colleagues and I have been debating where to put a new swing and finally, a few weeks ago we all agreed on a location in the heart of our adventure playground. Then all we had to do was build it, and last week we decided we’d put aside our usual tasks and put it up today.
As is the case with many adventure playgrounds, lots of our structures have been built by the staff. Several of my colleagues have decades of experience of constructing play equipment – I’ve even done a bit myself. A few years ago I helped build a sandpit, and last year we all moved into a new office that we’d rescued and re-built.
So today we split into teams to undertake the different jobs. It was bitterly cold but we’d all wrapped up well. The swing frame is a large timber structure made of several telegraph poles, and to make way for it we needed to remodel a nearby structure. This was the task I was assigned to.
My tics somewhat limit the swing-building jobs I’m able to undertake safely. But Will, my support worker, was with me and he helped me get fully involved. We started measuring, taking apart, and re-building, a small wooden staircase that needed remodelling.
We drew a plan and identified how much wood we’d need to re-create it. We then set about dismantling it. This was tricky – it looked rickety but it was actually pretty tough. I helped a bit but Will did most of the demolition, using a hammer.
The next step was to cut the wood for the new steps. Will used the saw and I tried to help by holding the plank still as he cut it. What neither of us had bargained for was that my tics would find sawdust blowing in the wind hugely exciting. Every time a gust blew it up in the air I overreacted massively and thrashed about in Will’s direction. Understandably he found trying to use a saw while having his arm punched a touch tricky. Whoever knew sawdust could be so exciting!
We made it through with all our limbs intact, but my overreacting didn’t stop there. The group working on the new swing had reached the point where they were raising the poles into position – watching this was more nerve-wracking for me than watching a tense thriller. It took a long time for the beams to be safely bolted together and while it was happening I sat in my wheelchair watching from a safe distance and helpfully contributing a great deal of squealing, flapping, and ticced advice to everyone about not dying.
It was a big relief when the bolts were finally in and we could go inside to warm up. There’s one more day to complete the structure and when the sawdust’s settled the playground will have a new accessible swing that’s I sure to bring a great deal of laughter and joy.