THE first Smart Playground in the UK has been officially opened in Henley.
The toddler playground in Mill Meadows has been re-vamped into a one-of-a-kind play area which combines play equipment with smartphone technology.
The ú130,000 facility, which is aimed at two- to 10-year-olds, is designed by Danish playground suppliers Kompan and has a theme of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales.
Parents and children who visit the playground can bring their smartphones or tablets and scan QR codes located on the equipment to download the Kompan app for free.
They will then have access to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales and educational games.
Around 50 people attended the official playground opening on Saturday, which was carried out by Henley Mayor Martin Akehurst. Equipment features fairytale characters such as the Little Mermaid and the Ugly Duckling and includes a climbing structure with slides, a rope climbing frame, a tunnel, carousels, swings, seesaws and springers.
The ground is made of Wet Pour Rubber and has a soft, springy surface. It is painted in bright colours in a design featuring Henley Bridge, rowers and swans.
Ray Parker, area sales manager for Kompan, said: “When they scan the QR code it opens up Play Gate, a programme with four different apps that are completely free. Some are educational and some are game-based but they are all based around fairytales. We are trying to get parents and children interacting with the equipment together.”
Mr Parker said he was thrilled with the finished play area. “It’s fantastic,” he said. “Personally, I think it is the best toddler playground in the UK that I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot of them.”
Rob Tatman, of St Mark’s Road, Henley, brought his seven-month-old daughter Alice to the official opening.
He said: “This is Alice’s first visit and it is fantastic. It looks like they have made the ground much improved. It is so much softer so it should be safer.”
Matt Mannall, from Bix, brought his sons Freddie, three, and two-year-old Bertie.
He said: “It’s brilliant and much improved. We missed the playground when it was closed so it’s great that it’s open again.”
Parents and children were invited to dress up as fairytale characters for the official opening, and were judged in a competition, organised by Henley Town Council. Claudia Nicoletti-Dowd, from Stoke Row, brought her son Lorenzo, four, who dressed up as a pirate.
She said: “Lorenzo is loving it. I think the playground it really good for his age group but it also transcends his age group and can go from two- to five-year-olds quite comfortably.”
First prize was awarded to two-year-old twins Matilda and Luella, of St Mark’s Road, Henley, who dressed as fairies.
They won books donated by the Primary Times educational magazine.
Second place went to five-year-old Milda Kaminskaite, of Adwell Square, Henley, who dressed as Elsa from Frozen. She won a book of Hans Christian Andersen stories donated by the Bell Bookshop in Henley.
Third prize went to Hallie Hinton, four, of Queen Street, Henley, who dressed as Rapunzel and won a colouring book donated by Kompan.