We are Naomi Fisher and Lisa Walke. We are both parents to 3 children and have been friends for more years than we dare to count!
Whilst our career paths have taken different directions (Naomi is an architect, and Lisa a primary school teacher), we share similar values concerning childhood, including the importance of children’s play and their connection with their environment; common threads in both of our vocations. The ROAM project developed as a positive action we could take to bring back something we felt had sadly almost disappeared in childhoods of today. Some early testing of the concept convinced us of the huge benefits of this type of unstructured and unsupervised play.
Whilst we continued to run monthly sessions at our local park, we wanted to spread the word, and to bring the benefits to a wider audience. In June 2018, we were delighted to find out that our funding application for a project development grant to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Ideas and Pioneers Fund had been successful. Since then, as well as running the sessions, we have been refining and developing the sessions. We are turning an informal idea into what we hope is a viable model complete with associated supporting documentation that other communities can use to adopt the idea. At the same time, we are looking to trial further sites to provide sessions that are inclusive to a wider range of participants.
Since immersing ourselves in the current research and discourse surrounding the benefits of unstructured play and children’s freedoms, we are even more convinced that the type of experiences our sessions offer are essential components of children’s development.