Parks identify your city. We all remember a great experience as a child during a family or social event at a city park. You can visualize the park setting and recall the name of the park or town. Maybe you remember the smells; were there lilacs in bloom, or dry leaves underfoot? You can remember the sensation of feeling you were in a beautiful space where wonderful things can, and did, happen.
Some of us collected memories as a child, others as adults with a child or pet. However, when you utilize a park setting, you leave with a perception of the people and the place. Your fondest memories of that special park experience are forever tied to the town that supported it. You can find many ways to encourage your child to experience adventures in a park.
There are many great parks in America. Central Park in New York City, N.Y., has had entire movies set within its boundaries. This is a park on a grand scale where you can ride a carousel, play some tennis, swing from the monkey bars, or catch a free Simon and Garfunkle concert. Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif., has a field of bison, an incredible arboretum and a pond to race model boats. Other parks exist in small towns and cater mostly to local folks and a few passers-by. Regardless of size and attributes most parks serve the public as a safe haven for play, relaxation, fond memories and even education.
These various types of parks set the stage for meeting many needs: run your dog, run your legs, ride your bike, throw a Frisbee, hold her hand, watch him take his first steps…. Yes, parks are places for great experiences. Parks are where we hear the giggles of children, see the warm smiles of adults remembering, and feel the excitement of youth and the freedom to play. Playgrounds are an important part of great park experiences. Read this report to learn tips to advocate for your park.
Playgrounds within parks are the setting for pint-sized adventures that teach skills we rarely stop to contemplate. Beyond the rush of breeze that the arch of the swing brings is a lightness of being that we cherish forever. The triumph of finding that we can descend the highest slide, or climb the toughest jungle gym, is the foundation for many challenges to come.
At parks, we experience our first real sense of discovery and exploration. We learn to play and negotiate. We learn how to be teammates, to rely on one another, to wait our turn. We experience unabashed laughter and joy that is not always easy to duplicate.
Children aren’t the only ones who learn at a playground. Adults learn to change their perspective (if only for an hour). They might unwind themselves with a trip across the monkey bars, or an upside-down dangle by their knees. That’s one sure way to “let your hair down” and change your view. Just as importantly, adults can peer into the fascinating world of children. Watching kids play on a playground fills one with an appreciation for the independence, interdependence, camaraderie, agility, and sense of accomplishment that children embrace so freely.
Great playgrounds produce great park experiences. Such experiences tie us to the places, cities or schools that built and maintain these parks. People will travel out of their way to return to a favorite park. They will stop to let their children build their own skills and memories on a playground. Or, they may only need to cross the street in their hometown to visit this special place. Either way, your park should be filled with people eager to chase their youth, swing, and slide, join in the laughter and wiggle their toes in the grass. Are magical park memories being made in your town? Playgrounds define your park; parks define your town!