Our Guide to staying warm outdoors

Forest School top tips for keeping warm when outside in winter!

Here at Rowntree Park Forest School we play outside all year round, whatever the weather.  The children get so much from being outdoors, especially as the weather changes.  It’s a great learning experience and brilliant for building resilience.  Going outside when it’s raining, cold and grey doesn’t always come naturally but it teaches children to handle the elements, keep going when things get tough and have fun even when the situation isn’t their preferred option!

As a Forest School Practitioner, I spend most of my days outdoors so I’ve picked up a few hints and tips on staying warm outside.  It’s especially important for little ones as they’re smaller and don’t have the extensive circulatory system which adults have.  I’ve listed my top tips below but if you have others, please let us know in the comments.

Layering up is key

Layers trap air pockets between clothing.  This air warms with our bodies and insulates against the colder outside air.  Layering also means that you can take off a layer or two to prevent sweating if you or your child gets too hot running around.

I usually aim for three or four layers.  A snug base layer, usually a thermal vest or t-shirt, with another t-shirt on top.  I then add a jumper on top and then my coat.  If it’s really cold, I’ll add a bodywarmer.  I’m aiming for enough layers to keep me warm, but not so many that I can’t move!

The most important layers are the top and bottom.  The bottom should be comfortable and fitted.  Ideally something which wicks moisture away from the skin.  Lots of high street stores sell good thermal vests and tops which work brilliantly.  Try to avoid cotton where possible – it tends to hold water, making it colder and more uncomfortable.  The top layer should keep out the elements – waterproof and windproof is ideal.

Lots of our toddlers opt for two-piece waterproofs – a bib and brace/dungaree style bottom and waterproof coat.  The dungaree bottoms are often very good quality and are sufficiently adjustable to last for several growth spurts.  They’re also much easier when it comes to toilet time!

Keep moving

The most important thing is to keep moving.   Humans generate their own heat and so the more we move, the hotter we get (to a point!).  So, keep walking, jump up and down, rub your hands and stamp your feet and you’ll stay warm for a lot longer!

Often children stop moving when they get upset by the cold.  This can be a tricky cycle to break, as they will get colder quickly without movement.  It’s useful to have a few games in hand to get them moving.  Scavenger hunts, tig, or hide and seek are popular with little ones.

Don’t forget the extremities

Hands, face and feet get cold quickly, either because their exposed or because it takes longer for the warm blood to circulate to them.  Thick woollen socks (I ALWAYS wear two pairs) and sturdy boots will help and a warm hat is essential.

Gloves can be tricky.  The children and I find it hard to do all the exciting things we want to with our gloves on, so more often than not, we abandon them in favour of having fun.  I have found a good compromise – wrist warmers.  These lovely woollen tubes have made such a difference to how warm my hands are.  Mine are Turtle Doves, but other places make them.

I’ve also found neck warmers to be much better than scarves.  They generally fit more snugly, don’t trail around and you can keep them on all day.

And when it’s really cold…

Pop a hand warmer inside your coat (not next to the skin) for a lovely warm glow.  Please don’t give hot water bottles to children due to the risk of them leaking very hot water and scalding your child.

And the best thing about being outdoors in the cold, wet and windy weather?  Really appreciating that lovely hot chocolate and snuggle with your grown up around the fire or back home after a fun day out!

We have two forest schools running at Rowntree Park and you can find out more at https://rowntreepark.org.uk/events/booking.

Christine Banham – Forest school Practitioner – education@rowntreepark.org.uk

Friends of Rowntree Park members survey 2022

Key summary of feedback:

Members are very grateful for the work the FRP do – although many can’t volunteer they contribute financially through membership.

Gardening, biodiversity/environmental issues plus mental health and wellbeing programme seen as an incredibly importantly part of our work.

The events and community feel created by the events and projects is appreciated.

Still some comments regarding the cafe BUT the cafe in NOT linked to the FRP. The council manage Rowntree Park.  That means they have overall responsibility.  Things like health and safety, toilets, opening/closing etc are down to them. Please note that the Tennis Club, and York Explore Café and Library are separate from the Friends and they operate their own areas and generate their own income – it does not go back to the whole park itself, it goes to their areas/organisation.

Summary of feedback:

Forms response chart. Question title: 1. I am aware of what the aims of the Friends of Rowntree Park are and what comes under their remit and what is the council's responsibility. Number of responses: 242 responses.
Forms response chart. Question title: 2. I'm aware of the areas that the FRP garden (and fund). Number of responses: 243 responses.
Forms response chart. Question title: 3. I have been a FRP member for.... Number of responses: 243 responses.
Forms response chart. Question title: 4. I volunteer, or have volunteered, with FRP - (we know not everyone has the capacity to volunteer, just by being a member you are helping!). Number of responses: 243 responses.

Most important to people summarised from the survey overall:

  • Gardening came out as a priority and reference made to the great work on biodiversity and interesting planting/ecological 
  • Children’s events and nature education 
  • Community feeling/social events/bringing people together
  • MHWB 
  • People wishing more events happening and FRP had to focus less on general maintenance.
Forms response chart. Question title: 5. Which of the following areas of the FRP work do you see as the most important? (Choose as many as you like). Number of responses: 240 responses.
Forms response chart. Question title: Do you ever attend Friends of Rowntree Park events? . Number of responses: 240 responses.
Forms response chart. Question title: 12. Do you use any of the following to keep up to date with what the Friends of Rowntree Park are doing and what is happening in the park?. Number of responses: 225 responses.

If FRP could do more – what would you like to see? (Top things noted)

  • More volunteer sessions More children’s events
  • More health and fitness activities
  • Pond cleaning (currently CYC roles)
  • Music, events, art and theatre.
  • More nature and history walks etc
  • More things/events for older children – especially girls.
  • Reclaim cascade area and sort it out (currently CYC role)

    There were lots of great suggestions. However they all require more volunteers to get involved to run and organise such things. Anything can happen! Got an area of interest and want to help – get in touch!

Why I support the FRP:

Main reasons given:

  • Underfunded – government cuts and lack of council focus on parks.
  • Discount at cafe – initially – then realised all the FRP do
  • Want to support all the great work the FRP do -appreciate all the volunteers do
  • Can’t volunteer but want to give moral and financial support
  • Want to support a local community space when sop much in York is aimed at tourists
  • Helping create an inclusive space/local safe space and community asset/Community spirit
  • Realised importance of park and all FRP do in Covid.
  • Enjoy the combination of different areas – formal, woodland, biodiversity etc
  • Support for local amenities (including shops) is important to me – use it or lose it!

General feedback for the FRP: (a few comments selected)

  • The volunteers do a brilliant job and without them I’m aware the park wouldn’t be what it is – a wonderful space. 
  • I think you do an amazing job. The flower beds and seating areas are a great asset.
  • I am immensely grateful to the Friends for their hard work which makes such a huge difference
  • FRP do a great job with limited resources, money and people
  • Please carry on fighting for the preservation and maintenance of this gorgeous park
  • I like the newsletter for communication – it’s really informative and well put together.
  • Love the Very Young Friends and RSPB meetings. All the family events are fab.
  • Love the focus on mental health. Fabulous charity, essential to keeping the park a useable and beautiful community resource.
  • You do a great job, which is much appreciated. The borders look amazing and it is a lovely park to walk and play in
  • I like the welcoming feel of the events put on by the FRP. I love that they are of reasonable cost when so many things are expensive.
  • Thank you for your hard work!! The park wouldn’t be 1/10 of what it is without FRP volunteers – especially with the neglect from the council (not entirely their fault – central gov funding cuts have been brutal I know).

Do different genders use parks differently?

Together with the University of York, we ran an event on Saturday 5th of November to share research and also get the views of park users on the topic of ‘Do different genders use parks differently?’ Thank you to all who stopped by, despite the weather!

The event was part of the Festival and Social Science and gave people the opportunity to come along and find out about national wide, and local, research, share their own views and help participate in some research themselves.

Sarah Knight, for the department of Geography and Environmental Science at York University has been carrying out research into ‘Gender and green and blue spaces’ and Abigail Gaines from the Friends of Rowntree Park has spent the last year looking at Rowntree Park with regard to older children, finding out how they do, and don’ t use the park – with the aim of making improvements (and involving the children in this). A particularly focus has been on older girls, as research shows their use of parks drops vastly as they enter pre-teen and teen years.

You can find out more about Sarah’s work here. Our last FRP blog on ‘Make Space for Us’ regarding older children and Rowntree Park can be found here. The images below also summarise the project.

The FRP have held focus groups for older girls over the last year and also have run online surveys to gather views of older children. The survey for all children age 10-16 can be found here.

More info on the Festival of Social Science can be found here.

Hello Autumn!

Let’s celebrate the wilder side of Rowntree Park – Saturday 10th of September 2023

We’d love you to come along to our community event with a traditional vibe hosted in the ‘Wildlife Area’ at the Butcher Terrace/Millennium Gates side of the park. It’s all aboiut celebrating the end of summer’start of Autumn – with a fairly big apple focus. Afterall, this area hosts our mini orchard!

The event overall is free to attend (1pm-4pm), but there will be some crafts and activities that have a cost – some may need booking in advance as numbers are limited. The event is part of ‘York Environment Week’ (though a few weeks before) and also involved local organisations Abundance and St Nicks.

Events and activities running:
-A chance to have a go at Apple Pressing
-Find out more about our orchard and ID some apple varieties
– Foraging Walk*
– Wheat/corn dolly creation*
-Create a Harvest Star*
– Apple printing onto bags*
– Storytelling
-Apple Olympics
– Orchard ‘scavenger’ game/quiz
– Apple crafts for little ones
-Talk to volunteers about the plans for the Wildlife Area
-Cake and Preserve stall – we are after item donations for this stall!
-Fruit/Vegetable/Seed swap – bring your surplus!
-‘Power volunteering’ – Have a go at volunteering in the wildlife area with our fun 30 minute gardening circuit!

Events marked with an * mean the activity should be booked in advance and has a cost. Book here.

-Foraging Walk – 12.15-1.30pm
-Harvest Star Making – 1.30-2.15pm
-Corn/Wheat Dolly Crafts 2.30-3.15pm

The timetable for other activities taking place through the afternoon such as the Apple Olympics, Story Telling and Nature Walk will be shared soon…

Pop down and see what’s happening!

Making space for girls – older girls and Rowntree Park

Our original article outlining why there is a need to raise awareness of the lack of use of parks by older girls – The Right to Equal Play – can be found here.  This was influenced by the work of Make Space for Girls, whose initial aims include raising awareness of the issue and gathering more research.  Over the last year there has been further research on older girls’ use of parks, including ours on Rowntree Park in York. In this article we examine what the research suggests and how we can start to improve parks for older girls.

Table of content

Summary of the issue

When asked what play and facilities they have in parks for older children, most councils in the UK would list skateparks, BMX tracks, football pitches and MUGAs. There aren’t many studies of older children and parks, but what there is shows that such facilities are dominated by boys and therefore can’t be said to be ‘gender neutral’ (1).  Delving into the reasons why males dominate these areas and girls stay away is useful, but complex. What is clear is that it is important that the views of young people, including girls, are considered when building new parks or adding new facilities to parks. As it stands, parks are planned and built for the ‘default male citizen’ (2). Councils may not be intending to discriminate, but by not considering the views of girls this is what happens (3). In truth, when looking for play ideas and equipment for older children, councils have a limited catalogue to choose from. It’s possible that what girls want and need may need some thought and some new design ideas. Make Space for Girls have started to explore this (4).

It is worth noting that any improvements based on the views of girls also benefit other groups. In addition, when the views of boys are taken into consideration regarding what they’d like to see in parks, current research shows that there are a lot of similarities between boys and girls. Perhaps what are assumed to be facilities for older children are not actually what the majority would choose.

What research shows

In younger age groups, the use of parks seems to be fairly equal between boys and girls, especially when parents are around. But it’s when children start to use facilities alone that girls tend to use parks, or certain areas of them, less.

Research shows that from the age of 8 there are less girls using public parks, and this decreases as girls get older and gain more independence (5). As fewer girls use parks and retreat more to private spaces, this can have a negative impact on physical and mental health. From the age of 10, activity levels drop significantly in girls, until by the age of 13-15, only 8% of girls are meeting physical activity guidelines (6). 

Recent research by Yorkshire Sport Foundation (7) found that parks/green spaces are popular places for teens to hang out in their spare time, with 48% of girls using them regularly,  compared to 63% of boys. Parks ranked second in the places they frequent in their spare time, with shopping centres/shops in the top position (8).  However, the research shows that 59% of girls don’t feel welcome in parks because the spaces are dominated by boys. 

Reasons that influence girls’ use of parks

In this section, the term ‘formal play spaces’ refers to facilities such as skateparks, football pitches, basketball courts, BMX tracks and MUGAs.

A range of reasons/factors can cause this decrease in older girls’ use of parks:

Boys dominate formal play spaces – Studies of school playground behaviour show that boys tend to dominate formal play spaces, and that some girls withdraw/are less active when boys are present. This behaviour has been mirrored in parks (9) . 

‘Territorialism’ – This occurs when people think of a space as belonging to a certain group. It may not just be the users themselves, but others as well. This can be seen in skateparks, where boys and young adults spend time practising their skills and hanging out with friends. It may not be the boys themselves who are working to keep out other users, but more that the perception is that the skatepark is for males. ‘Territorialism’ teaches boys to see the public space as theirs: they grow up seeing other males using the space and there is an assumption. Girls believe that their right to access certain public spaces is dependent on boys allowing them in (10).

Negative treatment – Another reason girls give for not using formal play spaces is the fear of physical contact and negative comments. Feedback from skateparks points at similar reasons – girls don’t like the competitive element and fear criticism and taunting, or being pushed out of the way, making them feel they shouldn’t be there. Also cited is the fear of being mocked for getting sweaty/red in the face when exercising (11).

Safety – A Girlguiding study showed that over 40% of girls aged between 11 and 21 feel unsafe when they go outside, and a third are worried about doing things outside (11). In the Yorkshire Sport Foundation study, just under a third of girls said not feeling safe stops them from using parks (12).  The presence of boys significantly increases girls’ safety concerns to 51%, with 41% of girls worried about harassment from boys. This stems from girls’ experiences with boys in school and the wider community (13).  Our own research in Rowntree Park found that half the girls surveyed felt unsafe in the park.

Girls feel they shouldn’t be in play parks/or that there are a lack of facilities for them – Older girls have cited that they’d like to use play parks, especially swings and climbing equipment, but they feel they aren’t meant for people their age. This was clear in our research.  Girls perceive that parents of younger children are looking at them, thinking that they shouldn’t be there.  A few girls we spoke to said they’d actually had a parent say something along those lines. The girls feel bad when little children want to use the equipment so they move aside. The Yorkshire Sport Foundation study states that parks don’t meet the needs of the majority of girls, with 68% of girls saying there is nothing for them to do or that park space and equipment tends to cater to boys’ physical activity needs (14). 

The above feedback is from research in Rowntree Park

Social expectations – There are numerous factors that interplay here, but to keep it simple, girls have been socialised into certain norms. Behaviour and activities linked to formal play spaces don’t correlate with these.  Additionally, parents can be more cautious about girls going out alone or to public places. In addition, 73% of girls in the Yorkshire Sport Foundation study said they stop being active if people are watching for fear of being scrutinised (15).

Other reasons given include:

  • Lack of facilities or maintained facilities such as toilets (important for girls navigating puberty)
  • Lack of knowledge of how to engage with activities/facilities.

The importance of ‘play’ and design of areas for play

Play is so important for children’s development from an early age. Exercising while young benefits girls and reduces the chance of osteoporosis in later life. Children learn social skills through play as well as developing physical skills such as balance. Girls need equal access to ways to develop these skills.  Therefore considering inclusive playgrounds in schools or childcare settings, as well as public parks, is important. 

Quite often school playgrounds can become dominated by boys playing football. In general, the boys have the central space with the football field, the basketball court, or games that require expression, that is to say to run, to take up space… and the girls, without realising it, will put themselves in the spaces that are left for them…  Having less room to play, not being able to play what you want because you are a girl, or a boy who is not conforming enough, makes playgrounds hierarchical. You can only enter the space if engaging with the game happening there” (16). Girls are often found at the side but are happy to utilise the space if the area is cleared for games like tag, running or doing cartwheels. Barcelona architects Equal Saree designed an inclusive school playground (not football-dominated)  aimed at ages 6-12. They found boys and girls play more together if one group doesn’t take over a space. In the playground they created there were lots of separate varied areas.

This idea continues in parks. It’s been argued that areas designated for a certain activity such as football, skating, basketball etc become claimed by boys. Girls don’t tend to use these areas as they are less keen on the competitive sports element, as pushing, hitting and/or banter are likely.  If an area that was previously designated to something like football is taken away, boys see it as unfair. They see it as their right to have this area – but it’s less clear how this understanding of ‘right’ has happened.  If the space is not designated to a specific activity and there is flexibility with choices of things to play, then equal play seems more likely and play is more likely to be co-constructed (17).  Therefore when planning for parks or improving parks, these are useful ideas to keep in mind.

How do older girls use parks?

The Yorkshire Sport Foundation research highlighted that parks are somewhere girls would go in their spare time. They mainly use parks to socialise (67%), walk (67%) and play on park equipment (45%). Conversely, boys are more likely to participate in vigorous activity including organised sport, bike riding and running (18).

From our own initial research on Rowntree Park, we found that 70% of older girls still use the play parks. 44% like the natural areas such as the woods, ponds and wildlife area, and  33% like the large open spaces (grass and amphitheatre), whereas only 12% said they use the skatepark and 8% the basketball courts.

When asked in more detail what play park equipment they use, the following scored most highly:

  • 100% swings
  • 78% zip line
  • 61% Climbing equipment/agility equipment

How can you improve parks for older girls?

There needs to be a lot more research into this area. However, from feedback globally, nationally and locally, some key themes are emerging that should be considered when planning or improving parks:

  • Free space with some areas not designated for specific activities
  • Benches – round picnic ones/ones organised socially facing one another.
  • Swings – normal, basket and group swings that face one another.
  • Shelters (with benches ideally)
  • Nature
  • Climbing/agility equipment
  • Lighting
  • Good facilities (like toilets) and clean maintained parks.

How do the views of older boys and girls for improving parks compare?

Studies of younger children and playgrounds show that when formal areas are removed and opportunities for play are more varied, boys and girls play more together and spaces aren’t dominated by one over the other.

Interestingly, research emerging on parks also emphasises that ‘ideal parks’ for older boys and girls are not that different. When Yorkshire Sport Foundation asked those in their study what would help encourage them do more sport and exercise in their areas, the results showed that trampolines were wanted the most by both groups (70% girls/53% boys), followed by things such as play equipment for older children (63% girls/48% boys), then swings (72% girls/39% boys). 

Facilities like skateparks were wanted by 31% of both boys and girls. Boys did rate BMX tracks, MUGAS and gym equipment higher than girls.  Interestingly, nature trails/woods scored quite highly (38% girls/34% boys), indicating that connecting with nature is valued (19).

Rowntree Park: What do older girls like and dislike about it?

Rowntree Park is a park 15 minutes from the centre of York, managed by the city council but with a strong Friends group. Due to a reduction of council funding for parks over recent years, the Friends help maintain certain areas of the park.  In addition, we run a range of activities, events and projects for the community and are passionate about the park.  We aren’t designing a park from scratch as the park already exists, so what we can do is look at our park and consider what does and doesn’t work for girls, and consider their views on what we could do to improve things. To be able to make changes to the park, we need support from the council who oversee the areas as a whole. We have this support in principle, though any plans for changes are down to us to come up with and look for relevant funding, the council will help and support where possible.

The park is fairly large with a skatepark, basketball court, tennis courts, table tennis area, toilets, railed picnic gardens, a railed play park and a smaller play park aimed at ages 8 and over.  There are also ponds, a library/cafe, a tarmacked amphitheatre/stage area, a woodland area with a log story circle, and a new wildlife area being developed.  The space is quite open and formal in the main park, with lots of wide paths and benches throughout. The wildlife areas are on the southern edge of the park.  What is important to note is that feedback from engagement over the past 12 months shows there are lots of things about the park that older girls do like.  However, there is always room for improvement and that’s what we are looking at.

What older girls currently like/use:

  • Circular picnic benches to sit and talk to friends
  • Swings and climbing equipment 
  • Engaging in nature – seeing the plants, flowers, trees, wildlife.
  • Open spaces such as the amphitheatre/stage, where you can rollerblade/cycle/perform/ or just sit.
  • Open spaces like the railed gardens – a space to play but with places to sit and chat (around picnic benches).
  • Wildlife area/pond dipping area and story circle (but only with friends as these areas are tucked away).

In addition to the physical features in the park it’s been noted that the girls like the park to have a range of ages in it. They also like seeing the park as a community venue – we have activities such as dance classes, pilates and yoga, Tai Chi, music events, forest school, and more. Although most of these classes/activities are not aimed at older girls, girls like seeing the activities happening as it makes the park feel welcoming and safer for them. One local girl gets out and about around the park alone or with friends looking for ‘Pokemon Spots’ after school and in the early evenings – having this app on her phone encourages her to go for walks.

 What older girls don’t like/don’t use:

  • The majority won’t use the skatepark/basketball courts as there are too many boys, and the areas are enclosed/caged so they seem unwelcoming.
  • Toilets can be unclean/vandalised
  • They feel they shouldn’t be in the small play park where the swings are or other equipment that they might want to use.
  • They feel less safe in the evenings as there are less adults about – the basketball courts and skateparks get busier and large groups of boys are more likely to be around.

It’s been suggested that things to look at and things to do makes the park more interesting. We do have tree trails and art in the park. Feedback has suggested that information boards work better for trails than having to pick up a leaflet to do them.

Rowntree Park: What older girls would like to see

  • More swings and climbing equipment added (but not in small children’s play area)
  • More benches near play areas (circular picnic benches were suggested).
  • Girl-only activities/sports led by a female
  • Having their views/suggestions considered and being involved in making change (thus feeling part of the community).

As mentioned at the start of this article, the suggestions made by local girls are currently based on limited knowledge of what a park could include. It is possible that designs in the future will be shaped by girls’ feedback regarding what they enjoy. We aim to continue to follow up our initial research with wider groups.

Rowntree Park: What have we done, what are we doing, and what next?

What have we done so far:

  • Online survey on the park in general (Aug 2021)
  • Girls in-person session (Oct 2021)
  • Raising awareness of general issues and what we are doing via press, radio, blogs and social media.
  • Talking to our local MP
  • Talking to the council 
  • Supporting others getting started on similar projects in their own local area, including councils.
  • Running ‘Wild Ones’ sessions for girls 10-16 (started Sept 2021)
  • Applying for funding for equipment

What are we currently doing, and what’s next?

Our aim is to look at improving the park in general for older girls, but later we may also focus on the skatepark and basketball courts and what could be done to encourage girls to use these more.

The original vision, which we still hold,  was to see if we can involve local girls in all stages of the project where possible. This includes raising awareness, what changes they’d like, funding applications and so on. This is something we hope to continue to do. For us, it’s a gradual process of making improvements to our park: change may be piecemeal but each step will hopefully make a difference. 

New Equipment
We applied for local ward funding in June 2022, and have been granted some money toward a basket swing and some benches. The Public Realms department of the council are going to support us with the finances for installation. These new facilities will be installed near the older children’s play area.  This area was chosen by local girls as they feel it’s open, in sight of the small play park (and therefore adults) but it’s also an area that is theirs.

Girls-only group
We have also been running a weekday evening session for girls aged 10-16 since September 2021. This has proved popular, with great feedback. The group takes place in our small wooded area and is based around nature activities. Examples include whittling wood, foraging, and nature art and crafts. The group is advertised as a safe space for girls to talk, meet new people, develop confidence and resilience and of course, engage with nature.  We have lots of hammocks hung between the trees and these are so popular! The girls love just hanging out and talking as they swing.  These sessions have been run as part of our wellbeing programme and funded by a grant from the LNER community investment fund. Seeing the girls in the park in the evening as a safe space and helping them develop skills and interests linked to nature and our park means they feel it’s their place. Hopefully this helps them see the park as a diverse place, and that there is more to it than just the formal areas.

More girl groups
We are considering running dance classes for older girls, inspired by social media trends. We looked into running girls-only skate skill sessions, but the facilitator we had in mind is no longer able to run them. But this is something we’d still like to do if the right people are out there and interested.

The ideal is equal use of the park and facilities. However, by getting more older girls into the park and them seeing it as a welcoming space, their space, will hopefully lead to change along the line.

More research
Over the next few months the following will take place:

  • A further survey (to follow up and focus on specific areas). This is open to boys and girls age 10-16. Click here
  • Social observations/data collection on use of areas of the park including the skatepark and basketball court
  • Focus groups – the first is Saturday 1st of October 4-5pm. aimed at girls aged 10-16. We will be hanging in hammocks and chatting views and ideas. Book for this free event here.

We will see what this research shows and this will guide the direction that things then take. It will also depend on who gets involved and the ideas that emerge.

Abigail Gaines – Friends of Rowntree Park.

This project is led by volunteers from the Friends of Rowntree Park with an interest in making a difference. We are not academics or professional researchers, but we hope the work we are doing is of interest and makes a difference to our local community.  We welcome anyone to get involved and help shape the project.

Thanks to:

Make Space for Girls for inspiration, support and continuing to share relevant research.
LNER – Investment and community fund who fund our wellbeing programme that includes the group for older girls.
Micklegate Ward – for funding a basket swing and benches.
Dave Meigh – Public Realms York City Council for agreeing to support us in getting new equipment in place.
Yorkshire Sport Foundation report – Make space for us– with research undertaken by Women in Sport.


  1. Default male citizens – those making decisions are often men and without seeking views of others, decisions reflect their bias whether intentional or not.
  2. Referencing our original article – ‘The right to equal play’ August 2021
  3. Make Space for Girls – https://makespaceforgirls.co.uk/
  4. Stockholm University 2012/ White Arkitekter. Flickrum – Places for girls. 2018 https://whitearkitekter.com/project/places-for-girls/
  5. Puberty and Sport: An Invisible Stage, Women in Sport, (cited ‘Make Space for Girls’ – Summary of research findings December 2020’
  6. Yorkshire Sport Foundation ‘Make Space for us’ research undertaken by Women in Sport. The research set out to understand the use of three parks across South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire among teenage girls to understand how girls feel about being active outdoors in their local parks and green spaces) . ‘Make space for us’ (June 2022,  p4).
  7. Yorkshire Sport Foundation ‘Make Space for us’ June 2022, p6.
  8. Edith Maruéjoulos.  Cited:
  9. Thompson, 2005, P64
  10. Friends of Rowntree Park focus group feedback, Oct 2021.
  11. Girls Attitudes Survey 2019, Girlguiding.
  12. Yorkshire Sport Foundation ‘Make Space for us’ June 2022, p16.
  13. Yorkshire Sport Foundation ‘Make Space for us’ June 2022, p15.
  14. Yorkshire Sport Foundation ‘Make Space for us’ June 2022, p17.
  15. Edith Maruéjoulos cited https://world.edu/school-diversity-what-can-gender-neutral-playgrounds-bring/
  16. Visible Women podcast- Caroline Criado Perez https://www.tortoisemedia.com/audio/visible-women-caroline-criado-perez-episode-2/
  17. Yorkshire Sport Foundation ‘Make Space for us’ June 2022, p12.
  18. Yorkshire Sport Foundation ‘Make Space for us’ June 2022, p30.

Please note – more detailed feedback from the initial survey and focus groups on the skatepark will be shared at a later date and the hope is to do some follow up work on this too as and when time allows.

Orienteering in Rowntree Park – June 2022

 Orienteering for all!

EBOR logo.gif   WEDNESDAY 29TH JUNE 2022, start between 6.30 – 7.15pm

EBORienteers Event 
Join in the fun, challenge and educational experience of orienteering in & around the park. This event aims to appeal to young children and families as well as to experienced orienteers.Low cost: only Seniors £3.00 and Juniors £2.00, plus free dibber hire. 

Terrain & facilities:  
Flat parkland with many attractive features, small areas of woods, grass land and a lake. Toilets, play facilities and a car park in the park (parking fees payable at the ticket machine)

Three courses to try:
participants can take part individually, in pairs or in groups
A: Accessible: 9 flags to find all on paths and accessible for wheelchairs & buggies.       1.0k
 B: Harder:      15 flags to find in a variety of nooks and crannies all within the park.       1.5k
C: Senior:       22 flags in the park & also around the streets, woods and fields nearby   3.5k 

Starts: between 6.30 – 7.15pm. Courses close at 8pm.Please re-cycle maps to enable second runs for anyone who wants to try another course.
Seniors £3.00; Juniors £2.00.  (pre-enter to reserve maps but pay on the day)You can try up to 3 courses for one fee.Dibber hire free but please take care of them,  lost hired dibbers cost £30.00Entries: Pay on the day from 6.00pm. Pre- entries if poss please to: philippuckrin@gmail.co.uk
Results : Will be posted on the Eborienteers website, www.eborienteers.org.uk
 Travelling arrangements The only road access is from Bishopthorpe Road, Butcher Terrace & Terry Avenue. Nearest postcode YO23 1LS.Local participants please travel by foot or bicycle where possible.
Planner – Phil Puckrin 01904 654302
 Information & entries: Philip Puckrin  Email:  philippuckrin@gmail.co.uk or info@eborienteers.org.uk

Art in the Park 2022

‘Art in the Park’ started in 2021, Rowntree Park’s Centenary year. Artists created a piece of work inspired by a decade/art movement of the last 100 years and Rowntree Park. The work was displayed in the park and has been admired by many. We are launching ‘Art in the Park’ 2022 and would love people to get involved! The theme is ‘Wild Rowntree Park’. The information below is for those interested in finding out more…

What art forms can be submitted?

In 2021, all art had to be submitted digitally  so we could have it printed onto A2 composite boards that were attached to the railings in the centre of the park. 

As this is a project run by a volunteer, this was the simplest and most effective way to get art up in the park.  A couple of artists took photographs of their art and this is what was printed.  However, that is not to say other art forms can’t be considered. If you have suggestions and can work out how to display your art outside (and fix it in a secure manner) then it could be possible.  As this is a public park, it is possible things can get damaged so you need to be aware of this. The artwork is displayed outside.

All digital submissions should be JPEG. Ideally minimum of 3000 pixels along the long edge. Your image will be put onto a board with a white border with the name of the piece, your name and also a website/social media handle. 

Who can submit

You can be an artist, or an enthusiast, of any age.  However, we reserve the right to choose the art work we will display. There is no guarantee all work submitted will be used. We will let you know if your artwork is to be displayed.


It would be good to get the art up for the summer. The deadline for submissions is June 26th 2022. The work would go to print the following week (Mon 27th) and be up by mid July. Please feel free to submit work before the deadline to hello@rowntreepark.org.uk

What next:

Please complete this form to register interest and fill any info you have at this time.

Please note:

Art in the Park is run by a volunteer who also manages a lot of the other projects, activities and events in the park.  Time is limited so please be patient with replies to emails. If you do have suggestions, technical knowledge or want to help (or run the whole thing) – get in touch!

Extra-  can you help?

We have sold tote bags for the last 3 years which have helped raise funds for our work in maintaining and improving the park.  We’d like to have a new design.  If you are interested in helping create a design for the bags, we’d love to hear from you. Ideally it needs to be something iconic, simple and can be printed in one colour (as more colour means more costly!) If you have some ideas or would like to be involved, contact abigail at hello@rowntreepark.org.uk

Winter Trees in Rowntree Park

Conifer appreciation!

When most trees lose their leaves in winter, conifers really stand out. We have a range of conifers in Rowntree Park that stay green all year (and also some other trees such as Holly). Because the green is easy to spot in winter months, why not use our handy identification sheet to spot the conifers in the park.

This identification sheet was created by our charity manager, abigail, who also creates nature resources for families in her spare time. Download to your phone or print at home and take it out and about with you when next in Rowntree Park. Adds a twist to a walk and is great fun for all ages!

We love to see your photos of tress, plants, wildlife and anything beautiful you spot in the park – please do share! You can email us at hello@rowntreepark.org.uk or tag us on social media.

Squirrel wars!

Image by Ellie at NutkinAvenue Illustrations (Friends of Rowntree Park volunteer and squirrel fan!)

Friend or fiend?

We are very fortunate that our park is alive with wildlife, there’s a variety of bird life in the water and woodland. We like to help our feathered friends when the weather gets a bit chillier by putting up a few feeding stations, and this year is no exception. However, the presence of our bird feeders often gets unwanted attention from certain furry friends…

The Park is the perfect squirrel playground, and our rodent residents are quite unphased by humans! They join people for their picnics (invited or otherwise!) and show off with their charmingly cute antics. But in reality these playful, plump critters are shrewd scavengers…

Eating EVERYTHING they find!

So far this Autumn not only have the Rowntree Park squirrel squad been pinching the bird food, but they’ve actually been eating the bird feeders too! We’ve had to have our wits about us and launch counter attacks to preserve the bird food to take us through the Winter. Squirrel proof bird feeding stations can be expensive, so we’ve gone with a DIY approach for now and it’s a really easy and economical way to protect your feeders. 

Stop the squirrels!

It’s a hack that is quite common on the internet in the eternal squirrel wars. Simply drill a hole in an old mixing bowl and allow that to sit over the top of the bird feeder. It creates a protective umbrella allowing access for the birds underneath. Similar ideas use a large pop bottle that encase the bird feeder, but leaves a gap for the birds to still access food at the bottom. We’ve tried to place our hanging feeding stations away from over hanging branches to avoid sneaky sideways squirrel raids and we have also added grease to the poles of the bird stations that are on stakes in the ground. 

However, with all this said, we know that as soon as squirrel bellies begin to rumble the sneaky squirrels will be scheduling a strategy convention to devise new tactics to get their paws on that bird food.

If you have any top tips or want to help create squirrel proof bird feeding stations, we’d love to hear from you!

Drop us a line at hello@rowntreepark.org.uk and we will put you in touch with Vikki.

Children’s Christmas Craft Packs 2021

Have yourselves some festive fun with our Christmas craft packs for children. A perfect pack for you to use in a lovely ‘crafternoon’ together. A fun family activity and festive to boot!

The pack includes:
A wooden lantern – build and decorate (LED candle included)
2 Wooden 3D hanging stars to decorate
2 wood slices – 1 to decorate as a hanging decoration and the other pre drilled to weave a Christmas star.
Some pine cones, orange slices, cinnamon sticks and twine to create your own natural hanging decorations.

Profits from the packs go to friends of Rowntree Park. The packs have been put together for us by Catkin & Co and are sold through their online shop for just £15. The packs can be collected from the park on the following dates or picked up from an address near the park. It is also possible to select postage and packaging at checkout if preferred.

Dates to collect packs from the park:
Saturday 27th of November 10-12pm
Saturday 4th December 10-12pm

There are only a limited number of packs available. The packs we created sold well last year.