The Maxwell Centre is a community hub based in Dundee’s Coldside area which aims to improve the quality of life of local residents through support and empowerment. I ran two children’s arts & crafts workshops with the help of the centre’s youth workers to try to establish what the children felt was important to include in designing a family community centre as part of my research. These workshops were run at the after-school clubs at the centre on the 22nd and 23rd of January 2019.
The workshops started with snacks and refreshments while I introduced myself and what I was doing. Then for the first ice breaker exercise I got the children to make characters using paper dolls of people who might use the community centre. Once we had made these we brainstormed and discussed the needs and wants of these characters and what facilities could be in place for them. The children then worked in groups and individually to design what a new community centre might look like using craft materials and dolls house furniture. I also had a stack of inspirational images and prompts for the children to select which ones they liked best. We then put all our ideas up on the window and discussed what things they felt were most important and what things they liked best about the Maxwell Centre.
One of the main things the children loved about the Maxwell Centre was the large community garden and allotments. This was very important to them as they could participate in gardening, learn about nature and have a space to play outdoors. The kitchen was a relevant topic as the community centre was getting a new one put in, the children liked the idea of having a lowering worktop so they could be more involved in cooking and baking. Access to computers was also very important to them so there was a place for families to access the internet and for getting help with homework too. Another popular topic was having dens and tree houses to play in, the children surprisingly preferred this to a soft play area. The children were also not fussed about having big colourful installations but having colourful lights or a sensory room or corridor was a popular suggestion especially with the younger children. Having an arts & crafts space or area to pursue other hobbies was a popular theme. Board games were also favoured and a large life size board game for the garden area was another favourite idea.