Abby Aliens triumph, together a-kart

Here’s a riddle for you in the time of Covid: this week 45 children from across London made go karts from scratch and traced them against one another. All Covid-safe! But how?

London Play press release

Inviting groups of children from across London to converge in a field, rub shoulders designing and building go karts from scratch, and then race them side by side was a BIG no-no this year. But London Play’s annual Go Kart and Girl Kart events are so hotly anticipated, by so many children, that the charity had to find a way to make them happen.

And so it was that Together A-Kart was born! Working over three consecutive days, with three ‘bubbles’ of children at three adventure playgrounds; six karts were designed, built, decorated and individually put through their paces. No petrol required – but plenty of hand sanitiser was deployed in the name of clean, safe fun. The London Play team timed and recorded all six teams in action; and then expertly spliced it together to create an exciting film, premiered on the charity’s YouTube channel on Friday at 12 noon.

Until then, none of the teams will know how they performed – but winning team the Abbey Aliens will no doubt be marking the end of the holidays with plenty of excitement! They can look forward to claiming their prize: a day out at Kent’s Buckmore Park Kart Circuit where Formula One stars Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button started out, generously offered by the Henry Surtees Foundation.

Many of the children taking part started out not knowing one end of a screwdriver from the other, but with a bit of guidance from London Play’s chief engineer Peter Wright, and some hands-on practice making their ideas into reality, all six teams were elated to have created functioning and even beautiful karts by the end of each day.

Angel from the winning team said:

“I’ve enjoyed painting aliens and making them look really nice. I helped cut the wood. It felt good… it was hard. But I got there in the end!”

Second placed team was ‘Boom Crushers’, hailing from Hackney’s Pearson Street Adventure Playground; and only just pipping their sister team by half a second (!) for third was Waterloo’s ‘Wolf Pack’.

Wolf Pack team member Anton, 10 said: “The best thing about our kart was we took our time and did the best things, and all worked as a team together.”

London Play’s Catherine Togut said: “We are so pleased to have found a way to make our go kart events happen this year. Together Akart has actually worked surprisingly well and the children have been fantastic. We are also really grateful for the support of the Henry Surtees Foundation, which had faith in London Play to deliver in these very unique circumstances.”

London Play also thanks Manufacturing Technology Association in remaining committed to supporting this event in its adapted form.

Adventure play
OK, so WE KNOW that adventure playgrounds are worth their weight in gold. Our Play Works project (2015-20) supported play workers to make sure they had the evidence to convince potential funders of the same.
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