Play and Playgrounds Build Community

Winter 2015

community built playground

What Is Community?

The idea of community suggests a social group of people residing in a specific locality or sharing common interests. A community could be a physical neighborhood or it could indicate a wide span of like-minded individuals creating a larger society.

President George H. W. Bush popularized the phrase “a thousand points of light” when describing the good that America’s communities and volunteers could do for others. The thought was to inspire a culture of volunteerism that would result in creating healthy communities that could realize their power to make a difference in others’ lives. Volunteerism is on the rise with today’s millennials embracing the concept of giving back even more than their parents did according to a recent poll.

The phrase “It takes a village to raise a child” has been attributed to several African societies who have similar proverbs to this effect. This idea fosters the premise that communities also have an impact in influencing the lives of children. This issue of Play and Playground Magazine explores many ways of engaging the community to affect the lives of children.

Creating playgrounds for children is often a labor of love involving volunteers. KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America. Since 1996, KaBOOM! has collaborated with partners to build, open, or improve more than 16,000 playgrounds, engaged more than one million volunteers, and served 7.4 million children. National Recreation and Park Association’s Parks Build Community initiative works to build and revitalize parks to provide thriving gathering places for the community. Shane’s Inspiration has the mission of creating social inclusion for children with disabilities through the vehicle of inclusive playgrounds and programs. Playgrounds are vital for strong communities.

Although “stranger danger” has kept many children inside their own homes, Pop-Up Adventure Play seeks to invite families to participate in free, public celebrations of child-directed play, stocked with loose parts (such as cardboard boxes, fabric, tape, and string) and staffed by playworkers.  An introductory version of the classic adventure playground model, they welcome people of all ages and abilities to enjoy free play together.

We invite you to discover the many benefits of community involvement, both for yourselves and for others.

In This Issue...

Community Childrens Drawin
By: Jay Beckwith
Anthropologists who study intact indigenous peoples find that they generally do not have a word for play. Children in these communities just do what kids have always done, naturally and without much “parenting.” The French philosopher Rousseau largely formed our modern idea of play as a distinct...
The jubilant playground committee
By: Marnie Norris
During the 2009 recession, when new park and playground projects were least likely to happen, Karen and Joe Cluchey, South Elgin natives, along with many others, decided to make a difference for children and adults with disabilities that will leave a legacy of true inclusion in this community for...
Free Outdoor Play
By: Angela Hanscom
The sound of a horn echoes through the woods. “What is that?” I ask, surprised to hear a musical instrument in the middle of the forest. One of our camp counselors points to a boy slightly hidden in the marsh behind some bushes. He has taken a discarded hose and made it into a horn. He blows it...
community built playground
By: Ka Boom
The importance of play in children’s mental and physical development is well documented. Yet, the number of children fully engaging in outdoor unstructured play appears to be dwindling. Currently, only one in five children live within walking distance of a park or playground, resulting in this...
New Games Movement
By: Dr. Bill Michaelis
With the recent phenomenon of helicopter parenting, the extensive use of electronic media, and the emphasis on high-stakes testing, is it time to panic that free play has lost its relevance in today’s society? Fifty years ago the New Games Movement advocated for play for everyone and organized...
By: Dr. Bill Michaelis
“We firmly believe that the development of the Play Community and the facilitation of FLOW are the main goals of play leadership.” John M. O’Connell and Bill Michaelis ~ (The Leader’s Handbook)
Neighborhood Play Around the World
By: Pop Up
At a pop-up adventure playground, a child tells her father where a window needs to go. He borrows a box cutter from the site volunteer and follows the line her finger traced with the blade. As she waits, she dances foot to foot and waves to a boy she knows from school, who waves back while rolling...
Missoula Children’s Theatre
By: The Play and Playground Magazine
MCT is Theatre for the community, by the community! Ok, that’s all well and good, but what IS MCT? Is it the Missoula Children’s Theatre, recognized across the country and throughout the world as the premier group that brings performing arts opportunities to kids who might not otherwise have access...
Improving Communities through Parks and Recreation
By: The Play and Playground Magazine
National Recreation and Park Association’s Parks Build Community initiative is a nationwide effort that demonstrates the transformative effect of parks on the health and vitality of communities.
By: The Play and Playground Magazine
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