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St Patrick’s School, Te Awamutu

Te Awamutu
Natural Play Equipment are simple, but engage children imagination and problem solving skills.Natural Play Equipment are simple, but engage children imagination and problem solving skills.

"We were really keen on creativity and imagination. We were looking for something really different."

St Patrick's Catholic School
Te Awamutu
Circa budget:

In Te Awamutu, New Zealand, Saint Patrick’s Catholic School is charting its own path in the realm of children’s play spaces. This isn’t a story about the traditional playgrounds we all know, filled with swings and monkey bars. It’s about a school challenging the norms to create a new narrative for their playgrounds.

When the school’s senior playground fell into disrepair, Principal Shelley Fitness didn’t opt for a like-for-like replacement. She envisioned a different kind of play space – one that emphasized creative play, physical strength development, and appealed to all ages. Creo, with its non-traditional approach, was chosen for the task.

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Creo’s methodology was both collaborative and innovative. We worked with the school’s playground committee to understand the unique requirements, aligning their design with the school’s ethos. For Shelly and her team, what set Creo apart was their use of technology – providing not just blueprints but a virtual walkthrough. This brought the school’s vision to life, aiding their leadership in presenting the plan to the board and PTA.

The construction phase, a crucial stage where many projects can falter, was handled professionally. Creo created an isolated worksite, reducing the impact on the school’s daily operations and addressing safety concerns. Their regular communication with the school ensured the project moved smoothly towards completion.

"One thing we've really noticed is that the older kids play with the little kids, so it's no longer the senior playground and junior playground,"

Upon unveiling the new playground, there was a transition period as the children adjusted to the new play space. It was a departure from the familiar, but its uniqueness soon found favour. The space now sees children of all ages interacting and playing together, a far cry from the previous segregated setup.

The fresh approach taken by Saint Patrick’s Catholic School and Creo has drawn interest from other educational institutions. This playground, built on the pillars of creativity, strength, and inclusivity, has carved a new path in play space design.

This experience has underscored that change can sometimes be met with apprehension, but with careful planning, collaboration, and a bit of creative courage, new norms can be established – even on a playground. It serves as a reminder to other schools considering similar projects that innovation, while challenging, can offer exciting and rewarding outcomes.

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