Steve’s been employed by Activity Sheffield for nearly ten years, and the last eight of them have been on Pitsmoor Adventure Playground. Although he came from being a manager of an upmarket Italian men’s wear shop on Orchard Square, it’s as if there wasn’t a time when Steve Edwards wasn’t connected with the Adventure.
Steve provides a safe, friendly, fun and welcoming place for some of Burngreave’s most vulnerable children. He has a natural talent and ability to connect with children and young people and has become a role model and a friend to many children who struggle with difficult family lives, have problems at school and are often getting into trouble elsewhere.
For some children Steve has been one of the few, if not the only adult that they have been able to engage with. His positive attitude, willingness to listen and see the best in people, provides an example to the young people that he works with and creates strong bonds of trust, not only with children but also parents. Steve takes play seriously; when you’ve beaten him in a game, you’ve won for real and children thrive on this type of challenge. His praise for a good game or painting done well, has a visible impact on children who use the Adventure, because they know when it’s given by Steve it means something.
When Slovakian children came to live near the playground they found a safe place to go. Steve explained they were being bullied at school and it was not being dealt with. “We don’t accept bullying here,” he said, “We put a stop to it straight away.” He felt it was important that they felt they could be proud of who they were at the playground. “We had them swinging on the pirate equipment the other day while teaching us to count in Slovakian.”
A community like Burngreave still needs to see how generation gaps can be bridged, and how people of different heritages and backgrounds and cultures can work together and play together. The Adventure symbolises this at a time when resources for children are so precious and so critical; and staff like Steve symbolise it even more. Pitsmoor Adventure Playground is a great place, but it’s only as good as the people who work there. Thanks to Steve, it’s become one of Burngreave’s most valuable assets.