Playgrounds are competing for kids' time and losing. Nearly 25 percent of children ages 9 through 13 have no free time for physical activity, and a child is six times as likely to play a videogame as to ride a bike. The playgrounds of tomorrow must offer something that even the most enticing virtual offerings cannot: real spaces that look at least as amazing as anything virtual. Architects and design firms are remaking the playground by taking virtualization head on. These spaces are complex and engaging, and some even have buttons to push.
" Nearly 25 percent of children ages 9 through 13 have no free time for physical activity" What the bleep? What are they doing ? Where did this stat come from?
"a child is six times as likely to play a videogame as to ride a bike"! I would have vegetated in front of the TV as a lad except that the parents used to kick me out with that old classic "Go Outside !" I think that if kids are 'encouraged', they will generally decide that they like at least some level of activity.
Cool playgrounds are fine, but I can't see grovelling to kids to get them out of the house.
I wanna be a kid again.
You don't need an artificial "playground" to play. Kids do need a safe place to play, time, and imagination though. Playing is not only moving your body around. There is so much more to playing and it is often not supported on modern playgrounds. Too many playgrounds do not permit children to actually modify their play environment. If it is moves in unforeseen ways - it's broken and needs repair. Children need to learn how to take risks responsibly. Playing in nature can be enough. A stick can be a stick, a gun, a sausage, a mast, etc. A good imagination allows you to never be bored and be better able to adjust to your environment later in life.
Can't believe Tom Luckey wasn't mentioned. He's a genius:
Letter to the Editor
2 Park Ave, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10016
February 15, 2012
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing about the article that appeared both online and in the February 2012 Issue, "State of Play: The World's Most Amazing Playgrounds Future of Fun Architecture and design firms are remaking the playground in ways you'd never expect By Geoff Manaugh".
I like this article because it speaks to the science of play and the need for play.
I am a 40yr old man and I want to play on these playgrounds. Though my limitations, due to my age, would make it difficult; I would have an easier time than many kids. What are missing from this article are the playgrounds that are engineered to be universally accessible to all kids, like SHANE’S INSPIRATION at Griffith Park in Los Angeles (Shanesinspiration.org).
While the playgrounds in this article are engineering feat’s, none of them appear to be accessible to all, denying some of the fundamental rights of childhood: the right to play independently with friends and family at neighborhood and school playgrounds.
Shane’s Inspiration was engineered to create an environment where all children can play together at the highest level of their ability.
More importantly, this playground gives children with disabilities and children without the opportunity to play with and learn from each other, thus increasing awareness and acceptance.
The playground is a child’s classroom. They learn to negotiate while waiting in line for the slide, to communicate by playing pirates or Star Wars on the bridge and most importantly—they learn to trust themselves and others by interacting physically, emotionally and socially with their peers.
As a society we routinely deny children with disabilities entrance onto the playground, as the majority of traditional playgrounds are physically inaccessible to them. When children with disabilities can reach the structure, there are generally only one or two pieces of equipment available to them, leaving them out of the majority of play activities. This means children with disabilities are denied access not only to their social circle but also to the vital benefits of play: physical development, cognitive growth, and social development, among others.
Integrated play helps develop: fine and gross motor skills; receptive communication skills; cerebral functions; physical strength; coordination and balance; and social skills, including independence and self-esteem. Integrated play also gives typically able children the opportunity to experience and accept their peers with special needs as equals, teaching the vital lessons of compassion, awareness, and acceptance.
Despite all of the tremendous benefits that integrated play brings, there are still relatively few truly accessible playgrounds available.
It may seem like I work for Shane’s Inspiration, I assure you I do not. I am the father of a 5yr old boy with Spinal Muscular Atrophy type II. I have seen first hand what this type of playground has done for my son and many of the traditionally able body children. Children do not see my son’s limitations, they play with him like they play with any other child because he can access the same areas that they can. His wheelchair is just his legs. At other playgrounds he has to just watch or I become his legs. Though the looks from the other parents when I pick my son up and run around with him like a crazy man at the non-accessible playground so that he can play are amusing, but both he and I prefer when he gets to play and no additional attention is generated because he is just one of the gang.
David C. Cook