Tots making most of great outdoors

A NEW outdoor area for babies has been opened in North Shields, thanks to a grant from the BBC’s Children in Need appeal.

The purpose-built outdoor play area is now up and running at the young mothers’ unit at Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College.

The unit, for girls who are pregnant or have young children, offers on-site childcare in a supportive environment rated as outstanding by Ofsted inspectors.

The new area allows babies to explore and experience the outdoors in safe and secure surroundings – or just to take a nap in the fresh air.

The area – designed and developed by the young mothers and staff at the school – features extensive decking, a ramp for buggies, a sensory herb garden and toddlers’ play equipment including a slide, climbing frame and bridge.

Margaret Lacey, teacher in charge at the unit, said: “Thanks to BBC Children in Need, we have been able to create this wonderful, safe haven for the babies to explore and play.

“It’s really important for babies to be able to discover the outdoors and take risks, but mams are sometimes reluctant to let their children crawl around in public parks.

“Here they are able to play in safety.

“The mums have also discovered how beneficial the fresh air is for getting their babies off to sleep, which is a great bonus.”

Kirsty Ankers, 17, who studies at the unit with her ten-month-old son Kenzie, said: “The outdoor play area is really good, and it’s a great place to play when the weather is nice.

“It’s more interesting for them than just playing inside.”

Gabrielle Hudson, 16, of Shiremoor, added: “It used to be just a boring bit of grass, but now it’s somewhere fun where the children can go and explore. Because of that, you can see each day how they’re developing.”