Even at night Ryan Claydon used to nip through William Parnell Park on his way home.
"No way would I do it now," says the 13-year-old from Sand's End, Fulham. "You don't know who's in there and I'm not going to let someone drop me over nothing."
"It's changed over the last few years. It's not even about who's in the area, it's more who comes here from outside," adds his friend Gary Johnson, who is 12. "We travel around the area together..it's safer and our mums want to know where we are. We used to be able to go anywhere, but that's changed."
With fear of knife crime stalking the lives of west London's youngsters, Mike Devaughan of the Sand's End Adventure Playground, in Marinefield Road, thought the Easter holidays would be a good opportunity to bring the local youngsters together for a project tackling the issue.
"It was their concept and they've done the work," he says pointing at the large, colourful mural outside the centre which has the slogan 'Stop the Knife Save a Life' emblazoned across the wall.
After two weeks work the piece is nearly complete, sending a message of unity from the children to their peers and those who may be hell-bent on violence.
"The message is a vital one to their lives – it really means something to them. They have to grow up in fear of other kids and hear about all murders and injuries caused by knives. They all know knife crime has to stop, they are sick of it, just like their parents, teachers and the police and this mural is there way of doing something about it."
Every day between 3-7pm Mike opens the drop-in centre for local children, aged between five and 16.
There, next to Langford Primary School, they can play football, pool and enjoy the tuck shop in a safe, positive environment.
The centre is a godsend to parents who work late and can not get home to supervise their children straight after school.
It also provides the youngsters – up to 40 of whom attend on any given day – somewhere safe to hang out before they go home for the night.
It is a lynch pin of the closely-knit Sand's End community and many of the parents of many of the current crop of youngsters using the centre, themselves spent time in Mike's care.
"It's great. I came here for one year and was going to leave. That was 13 years ago which tells you something about what I think of the place," Mike adds.