“Make three from one” – providing more play options in Nuremburg

By Rudolf Zeevaert

“Make three from one” – providing more play options in Nuremburg

At the same time, this also represents an alternative way of funding playgrounds.

You’re a local authority. What do you tell children who, not without good reason, ask you to build them a new playground in their neighbourhood or parents who petition you to upgrade an existing but uninteresting playground? “Sorry, we don’t have sufficient funds at present. We’ll be able to start looking at your playground in perhaps five to ten years because we first need to do something in the neighbourhoods in which there are even fewer outdoor play facilities.” It seems you can’t avoid disappointing them.

However, there are strategies through which local authorities can give children hope that their wishes might be met in the not too distant future. In the early 1990s, there were a handful of such projects that were accomplished with the help of private donations. Parents in Nuremburg’s Fischbach district actually formed an association in 1991 so that they could issue official receipts for donations given to them by sponsors. And subsequently, towards the end of the 1990s, someone had the bright idea of setting up a formally endorsed basis for this alternative method of obtaining cash. The “Make three from one” programme was born. It has proved possible since then to realise playground projects much more rapidly with the aid of the donations and private contributions collected through the programme. For each euro donated by a sponsor (or contributed by the project stakeholders), Nuremburg city authority provides a further two euros, thus making three from one. It is immaterial whether the proposed project concerns the renovation, upgrading or extension of an existing playground or outdoor play facility or the construction of a wholly new play amenity.

Nuremburg can justifiably boast of the success of its “Make three from one” programme. Citizens’ associations and initiatives, parent councils and politicians are committed to promoting the interests of children. Parents quickly realise that they can actually make a very real contribution towards their children’s wellbeing. Children’s get-togethers are held every two years in each neighbourhood and it is through these that the children and young people usually express their requests for more play and activity areas and/or their improvement. And these requests most fre-quently meet with a positive response!

Doris Steinhauser, officer in charge of outdoor play areas at Nuremburg’s Youth Welfare Office explains; “Our ‘Make three from one’ programme is a good example of functioning active involvement by citizens. Nuremburg has more than 300 public play areas but even so, children and young people in many of our neighbourhoods still have insufficient local play facilities at their disposal. With the finances made available to us annually, it is simply not possible for us to meet all the family-related requirements of those living in a large conurbation. The more outlying districts, in particular, tend to rank pretty low on our priority list. But thanks to the participation of our citizens and the programme, we have been able to make many play amenities more child-friendly and needs-orientated. We can do more when we all work together. Over many years now, the ‘Make three from one’ programme has clearly demonstrated this to be case. With the support of parent initiative groups, every year we’ve been able to build, renovate or extend more playgrounds and outdoor play amenities than would otherwise have been possible. And the concept also facilitates more needs-orientated and rapid implementation of projects.”

It is hardly possible to imagine a better way of facilitating the involvement of residents. The local authorities can thus make the (less ambitious) plans of their citizens reality at comparatively little cost. At the same time, the relative personnel outlay needed to supervise the projects of citizens’ initiative groups is considerably higher than in the case of larger playground ventures, in which not only children but also adults are involved. The construction of playgrounds in phases spread over several years is also not necessarily a particularly cost-effective approach, but is often the only way in which to avoid longer delays. At least, this is the view expressed by Thea Weber, planning and construction officer for green spaces at the Public Spaces Department (SÖR) of Nuremberg.

On completion, such projects often achieve higher acceptance rates among users than other comparable playgrounds so that they are less subject to the ravages of vandalism, a fact also confirmed by Peter Bechert, officer for playground maintenance at the Public Spaces Department.

Of course, even Nuremburg’s “Make three from one” programme has to have certain ‘rules of the game’, and these are shown in a leaflet available to every interested citizen. The following is a short summary of the main aspects:
• Each project must be notified to the Public Spaces Department so that it can be reviewed in advance.
• The viability of each project is assessed by the municipal authority which stipulates an appropriate timeframe for completion. Annual deadline for donation pledges by sponsors is the end of November. The project is to be implemented in the following year. Donations are to be received by the end of January (donation receipts are issued).
• Children and young people are to be involved in the planning process (a matter of course!) together with parents, initiative groups, educators and teachers.
• The search for sponsors can commence as soon as the viability of the project has been verified.
• The Public Spaces Department is to be consulted with regard to material and construction costs and these will be recognised as donations. Per construction phase and year, the city will contribute a maximum of €20,000. The minimum contribution will be determined on the basis of the actual project.

In the initial years of the programme, no specifically dedicated budget was available. The contribution of the municipal authority was taken from the funds put aside for playgrounds and outdoor play areas (currently, this is equivalent to an annual sum of €672,000) remaining after needs-orientated projects had been realised. However, a separate “Make three from one” playground budget was instituted in 2005. The annual amount that Nuremburg can contribute annually towards the programme (ignoring donations) is, of course, limited. It was originally €85,000 but has since grown to €130,000. Fortunately, this has proved to be enough to complete all approved projects submitted by initiative groups – although several projects had to be completed in several construction phases. The number of approved projects varies between 6 and 14 each year. In 2012, nine playground and play area projects were on the agenda. A further ten projects are being planned for 2013.

Case 1:
It is usually citizens' associations, parent councils and politicians who are the driving forces behind playground and play area projects and acquire the donations, predominantly from commercial enterprises. One example of active citizen participation deserves special mention. A young girl expressed the wish that there were more play facilities for her and her friends in addition to the amenities provided in the so-called ‘Hexenwäldchen’ playground in Nuremburg’s St. Johannis district. The girl’s mother found out about the “Make three from one” programme and set out, collection tin in hand and without other help, to see what donations she could gather in her neighbourhood. Within a month, she had amassed the sum required (supplemented by the two-thirds contribution of the city authority) to have a climbing frame with slide erected on the playground, much to the delight of the children!

Case 2:
At a children’s get-together, a couple of 10 – 12 year old boys stated that they wished there were a skateboard park and street hockey ground near them where they lived in the Altenfurt district. We explained to them that they could actually have their wish in the foreseeable future through the “Make three from one” programme if they could collect enough donations. The adults didn’t think the boys would be ca-pable of this, and wanted to rob their piggy pigs to pay for the project. But the citi-zens’ association came up trumps and found the money required. The city added its contribution and the small amenity was constructed in the Schreiberhauerstrasse in the following year. The boys’ piggy banks were left untouched.

Case 3:
Sometimes, supplementary funding is made available so that larger projects do not have to be realized over several, less cost-effective, phases. In one instance, the “wbg 2000 Stiftung” (a charitable foundation of the municipal housing association) donated €20,000 under the “Make three from one” programme towards the construction of the play area at the Astrid-Lindgren school in the Langwasser district of Nuremburg.

Case 4:
The funding required for the play area at the Carl-von-Ossietzky school came from many, minor sources (including a larger donation from the ‘Soziale Stadt’ federal/state scheme), and was made up to the necessary sum through the “Make three from one” programme.

Case 5:
It was only possible to construct the Florentiner Strasse playground in Kornburg because the local Protestant congregation collected donations under the “Make three from one” programme. By way of recompense for all the efforts of its members, the local day-care center run by the church has the exclusive right to use the neighbouring playground in the mornings – a win-win situation for all involved.

Case 6:
The “Make three from one” programme is to be used for the first time to finance a multigenerational exercise park. The amenity is still in the final stages of planning and is to be sited in the Reichelsdorf district of Nuremburg. Young people and senior citizens were extensively involved in the planning process, although through separate organisations. The perhaps surprising thing is the extent to which the proposals of both groups complemented and even coincided with each other. While the younger people wanted more fitness equipment, the older citizens choose equipment that would promote coordination. But both groups decided they wanted seating. As soon as the exercise park has been completed this year, the local sports association will be offering supervised exercise courses for the public there.

 

Images: Rothemund/Schönfeld/Viertel/Zeevaert

 

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