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’.
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.