We think that we can all agree that a community or neighbourhood playground is an amazing feature to have. Then why are so many developments and urban areas lacking safe places to play?
Playgrounds – in today’s world of 24/7 screen time – can offer a whole new world of discovery and creativity for a child. The playground can be a safe place for independence and development. A child who makes it all the way across the ropes course for the first time can feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment. Confidence, strength, and social skills are all developed at the playground. Because of this, children shouldn’t have to travel far to find a place to play.
Beyond the multitude of benefits for the children in your community, there are also plenty of other reasons why a playground may benefit your area.
A Safe Gathering Space
Neighbourhood playgrounds create a safe space for family and friends to gather. Research shows that the safety of the park increases based on the number of park visitors involved in positive activities. Basically, the nicer the playground the more likely you are to deter negative behaviours. Population density can play a role in crime rates increasing, but a great playground can play a role in the crime rate in those areas decreasing. A playground that offers inclusion and accessibility brings a sense of pride to a neighbourhood.
Physical Activity Rates Increase
According to sites like the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 20% of children are considered obese. Many children, especially in urban areas, may be lacking safe places to run and play. Nearby playgrounds encourage children to be more physically active and engaged in play. Having access to a playground can help reduce their health risks with even just 20 minutes of active play per day.
Social play on playgrounds can be especially valuable for children in building their self-esteem. As kids meet others in their community and make friends, they gain a sense of belonging and inclusion. Kids can also enjoy a boost to their own self-image when they welcome and include others. Accessible playgrounds can be especially helpful for making all children feel included.
Increased foot traffic into areas with playgrounds also increase foot traffic to local cafes, stores, and markets. Perhaps a trip to the playground on a sunny Saturday morning also includes a stop for coffee at the local café, and a quick stop for fresh bread at the bakery. More reasons to stay in your own community means more boosts to your local economy.
No amount of video chats or phone calls can replace the connection that we receive in person. Less than 1/3 of adults would say they know their neighbours. I’d guess that number gets much lower the denser your population is. Community playgrounds are a simple way to bring people together that have shared experiences like parenting or raising children.
For apartment dwellers or small business owners, local playgrounds can be a way to enjoy outdoor green spaces and build relationships within your community.
For new business owners, or those looking to relocate or expand, a busy and safe community playground can be a great sign of a happy community where their business may thrive.
Is there a playground at your local park? What about at your child’s daycare or school?
We hope so!
Considering all the benefits of a safe playground, you may feel discouraged if your community lacks this valuable resource. While the exact process for getting approval and funding for a playground may differ depending on your area, the first step is to generate interest within the various stakeholder groups. Family forums, community centres, town hall councillors and/or your local government officials will all likely be involved. There needs to be community buy-in to open up the discussion of a public playground.
At Dynamo Playgrounds, we understand the importance of play. If you’d like to learn more about the steps required to build a community playground in your area, please reach out to us today.