What happened to playgrounds as neighborhood hubs? – a guest post by Jean Oram
As the national nonprofit KaBOOM! kicks off its 2012 Summer Playground Challenge — which challenges families to explore as many playgrounds as you can this summer and offers prizes for your playground visits — playground lover Jean Oram shares how people can revitalize playgrounds and bring them back as neighborhood hubs.
Playgrounds used to be a social hub for neighbourhoods, particularly in the summer, but are less so nowadays. However, you could argue that playgrounds are even more important now when it comes to building healthy, playful neighbourhoods. With tall backyard fences and attached garages, neighbours are less likely to meet each other or their kids. Do your neighbours look out for your kids? For your house when you are away? Are they someone you know well enough to call on in an emergency? Playgrounds can serve as a way for neighbours to meet each other, unwind, and socialize. Not to mention all the great benefits to the kids playing in them! Below are some ideas for ways to revitalize playgrounds as neighbourhood hubs:
How Can We Revitalize Playgrounds and Bring Them Back as Neighbourhood Hubs?
- By visiting playgrounds with our kids this summer we can make others feel safer about sending their kids out to play (safety in numbers). This relates to Lenore Skenazy’s, author of “Free Range Kids”, idea of reseeding playgrounds with kids.
- Use KaBOOM’s free Playgrounds and Tag! apps, and the Map of Play to find local playgrounds wherever you are and keep your kids playing all summer. You can also use these tools to set up playground playdates, and even rate playgrounds.
- Spend time at playgrounds to show your local town or city that they are valued spaces worthy of maintaining. It also reduces the chance of vandalism and deters people from using them for reasons other than play.
- KaBOOM!’s Summer Playground Challenge is a great way to motivate and inspire your kids to visit as many playgrounds as possible during the summer and win some cool prizes. Maybe you could even start a friendly neighbourhood competition!
- We can show our kids that we value outdoor play and that we, as citizens, can take action and responsibility for our playgrounds by doing as Angelika Paul of Playground Hunt did – revitalizing, updating, and fixing up a local playground. Your kids will feel an accomplished sense of ownership for the playspace like you wouldn’t believe! My daughter asked the city for a garbage can at her local playground and feels pride and ownership in keeping it clean. It’s also one of the least vandalized playgrounds in town!
But the biggest thing we can do for playgrounds and our kids is to use local playgrounds this summer. So, let’s get out there! I’m the one inventing playground fun such as Under Whales (Under Ducks on the swings, only more swooshy). Come say hi. I’m always looking to meet other moms and dads.
Jean Oram is a mom, writer, skier, hiker, and playground lover. Her daughter loves the more challenging playgrounds while her son is most content in the baby swing. You can find her playing on her blog at www.itsallkidsplay.ca as well as pinning fun and games (literally) on Pinterest, sharing fun stuff on Twitter as @KidsPlay, and on Facebook. Let’s play! Get motivated to visit more playgrounds with your kids this summer by joining the 2012 Playground Challenge! The three top Challengers will win a trip for two to DC and all participants can win great prizes throughout the summer.