A park for all gains strength

Contributed by Jane Sherwin

AFTER much preparation and community discussion, Maleny Forums convened a forum to generate ideas for the creation of a multigenerational park in Maleny.

A park for people of all ages and walks of life is missing in Maleny and the 30 residents who participated in this thought-provoking forum identified needs for our diverse community.

The concept of a ‘park-for-all’ was strongly endorsed. An enthusiastic working group was established to consolidate ideas for presentation and to work with the Sunshine Coast Council in the future.

A highlight of the forum was the participation of a group of Year 9 students from Maleny State High School. They commented on the decreasing options for spaces for creative and physical outlets in Maleny for their age group.

They indicated that more appropriate facilities for teenagers might lead to less graffiti in town and also help to keep young people in town rather than moving away.

The creation of a multigenerational park means that diverse groups in the community can come together for play and recreation.

Rossina Moore, mother of three, teacher and Treasurer of Maleny Play Group, said: “A park that does not meet the needs of families and a variety of ages means that age groups are segregated and youth are disengaged.

“Modern playgrounds integrate play options with family space,” Rossina added.

“They also foster cultural connections.”

Glennis McAlpine, a retired nurse and grandmother, agreed.

She explained: “Assumptions about people over 65 are that they are all retired, living in retirement villages, and of ill health.”

She also said that this age group is “more typically in their own home, active even if in ill health, working and/or active in charities, community groups and child minding”.

“A multigenerational park is a focal point for families and community. It will benefit not only individuals but also communities,” Glennis said.

Psaltis Cauley, a mother, a member of several local groups in Maleny and with experience in community development, spoke about the experiences of those aged between teenage-hood and older age.

“This group cares for children and the elderly,” she said.

“They seek a cost-free place to socialise and to have celebrations. They look for relaxation and exercise in a natural environment, and spaces for creativity.”

Psaltis added that like other age groups “they too seek things to do, and are fun-seekers”.

The attendees worked productively to identify the needs of the range of age groups and solutions. For example, equipment for physical and sensory activities, including risk taking opportunities, across the age groups would meet a range of needs for skill building and maintenance, recreation and socialising. 

Additionally, some of the needs could be met by easy access to the location, accessible paths and toilets, safe usage at all hours, and multiple gathering spaces.

Group including students from Maleny SHS explored needs and solutions for teenagers.