Adventure playground to open in the heart of New York City

An adventure playground will open in the heart of New York City this May. play:ground, a local voluntary organisation will open a 5,000 square foot play space on Governors Island where children can imagine a world of their own making and experience self-directed play. Modelled after the original junk playgrounds, the adventure playground will let children shape their environment using an assortment of materials, tools, water, dirt, and up-cycled ‘junk’.


Photo: play:ground

At the Governors Island adventure playground, instead of shiny metal slides or swings, children might build their own forts from wood pallets and hay bales, they might manage a see-saw out of planks of wood, or a trampoline from old tyres that lands them in a pile of mud. All this happens under the watchful eyes of trained playworkers – staff who are on hand to provide assistance when requested, but otherwise stand back and let the children take the lead.

In a news release, play:ground said:

‘Today in New York, young people experience a tightly managed urban landscape, with rare access to spaces belonging entirely to them. Where are kids free to self-organize, or independently create from their imaginations? play:ground encourages a sense of freedom and permissiveness not found in most of the city’.

“I feel free at adventure playgrounds. You’re the one who builds the playground.”
– Oliver, 7.

Reilly Wilson, co-founder of play:ground and PhD candidate/NSF Graduate Research Fellow in Environmental Psychology at The Graduate Centre of the CUNY said:

“You can’t go to your normal neighbourhood playground and start tying stuff onto the playground structure, or start drawing on things with markers. You definitely can’t start nailing things to the playground structure”.

In addition to free public hours, play:ground will offer summer camps and school visits. Beyond the space on Governor’s Island, play:ground will continue providing local outreach through its on-going initiative — play:ground in the park.

Based on the Pop-Up Adventure Play model, play:ground in the park brings loose parts (e.g. boxes, fabric, found objects, art materials) to parks around the city, installing temporary play spaces for all.

play:ground launched its $25,000 kick-starter campaign with a deadline of March 30th, to help cover the starting costs including materials, fencing, and playworker staffing for Spring/Summer 2016.


‘For playwork, playworkers and play’.

Steering group announces new vehicle for playwork will soon be open for business.

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The steering group formed to develop plans for a new representative vehicle for playwork has agreed a name and a legal structure for the new body: The Playwork Foundation, and is applying for it to be registered as a new charity.

The proposed objects, part of the constitution of the new body, will be:

‘To advance and promote education, for the public benefit, in children’s play and playwork, in particular but not exclusively by: providing information; raising awareness; facilitating discourse; carrying out research; and building capacity’ within the field of playwork’.

The new playwork foundation is almost ready to launch. Photo: Meriden Adventure Playground

The new playwork foundation is almost ready to launch. Photo: Meriden Adventure Playground

The steering group said that it expects the new body’s trustees to be guided by its founding aims and principles, which were developed through a series of open meetings and mailings from 2013-15. The idea of a new body was raised at a summit meeting in Sheffield, called by Bob Hughes and the late Perry Else to discuss the future of playwork and how it could better make its case.

A survey of the playwork field in 2014-15 found that more than 94 per cent of those responding welcomed the idea of a new vehicle for playwork, and said that representing playworkers, raising the profile of playwork and campaigning for playwork services should be its top priorities.

In an email to prospective members, the steering group said it expected the foundation’s activities to be initially “modest” but that it will, nevertheless, “be open for business” once Charity Commission registration is complete. It intends to “engage fully in the national discussions and debates that are most relevant to our field –offering a platform for the playwork community to do the same”.

The steering group presented its plans at the national Playwork Conference in Eastbourne in March 2016 and wants to encourage the playwork community to get involved and make use of the new vehicle.

The Playwork Foundation Steering Group is:

Simon Bazley
Karen Benjamin
Jeff Hill
Barbara McIlwrath
Simon Rix
Adrian Voce
Debbie Willett
Ali Wood

For further information about joining the Playwork Foundation please click here