Category Archives: KaBOOM!

PlayGroundology’s on Cloud Nine

PlayGroundology has just wrapped its third year of blogging about the world of play and playgrounds. Following are nine posts that readers found popular. If you didn’t see them first time around, I hope you’ll take a moment to sample two, or three. If you like them, share with others – play never has a best before date. Happy playing and thanks for reading PlayGroundology!

Sculpted in France – Concrete Art Playgrounds

Photo credit: J. Bruchet. Source: Architectures de cartes postales. Designer: Pierre Székely. Cité des Jeux – L’Haÿ-les-Roses, France

I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for France so I’m always on the lookout for interesting play stories from that part of the world. Our family lived there in the early 70s. I was 12 when we arrived and 15 when we left. It was my gawky early adolescent phase which I like to think I’ve outgrown. (more…)

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Just Play

J

Just Play

play play
whether it’s alone or with friends
within four walls or under a great canvas of sky
just play

there are not enough hours
in a heartful life
to miss kaleidoscoping fun (more…)

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The Playground Paradise Principle

Paradise might be a bit of a stretch but Malmö, Sweden is quite simply playgroundalicious. It’s the kind of place that would inspire Mary Poppins to gather her young charges around her and umbrella them off to adventure – up through the atmosphere/ up where the air is clear/ let’s all/ go to Malmö. (more…)

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London’s Somerford Grove Adventure Playground Makes The New York Times Magazine

Source: Haringey Play Association. Click image to enlarge

There are four stunning, brilliant images in the March 1 edition of the The New York Times Magazine offering glimpses of children at the Somerford Grove Adventure Playground in London, England. (more…)

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A Journey of Epic Proportions

How do you spice up your morning commute to work and at the same time make it more meaningful? Look no further than my friend Chris Gregory for an answer. Chris is a champion for play at the Isle of Man’s leading children’s charity The Children’s Centre. To raise awareness for outdoor play and safe and playful routes for children, he is taking a different means of self propelled transport every workday for the month of March. His epic journey started out with a 3 kilometer spacehopper commute. Do I hear sore thighs? (more…) Note, Chris is in training for his second run at March 2 Work.

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Imagining a Better Future – Playtime in Africa

Source: Mmofra Foundation. Click image to enlarge

Two acres of green space in the Dzorwulu neighbourhood of Accra, Ghana are being primed for transformation. It’s all about the kids, or Mmofra as they are called in Ghana’s Akan language.

This story, about a small plot of land, spans decades, continents and generations. It’s the story of a woman’s vision, of her love for children. The seeds were sown 50 years ago when the late Efua Sutherland wrote her groundbreaking book on Ghana’s play culture, Playtime in Africa. The narrative and accompanying photographs by Willis E. Bell were the first real documentation of children’s play in the newly independent African nation. (more…)

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Sir Ken of TEDalot on Play and Learning

Earlier this spring, Sir Ken (Robinson) shared his views on education with an appreciative audience in Halifax, Nova Scotia – home of PlayGroundology. I was one of the 1,000 in attendance who enjoyed an accomplished and entertaining critic of conventional wisdom about education and creativity. No props, no notes, plenty of humourous asides and always an à propos anecdote. (more…)

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Have You Heard What They’re Saying About RISK? Listen Then Share

Generally speaking, parents want their kids to experience the fullness of the world – the quiet beauty, the dizzying adventure, the discovery of self and others. As much as possible we want to keep hurt and injury at bay but they too are part of the mix with cuts, scrapes and breaks both corporeal and psychological. So how do we go about assessing risk? How do we ensure that our kids aren’t enclosed in a cocoon of safety?

I saw this video a couple of nights ago and thought I would play a small role in helping to spread the word. Right now it’s at 373 views. After you’ve watched it, please share with your friends and your broader network.

Thanks to the Alliance for Childhood and KaBOOM! for producing this piece.

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The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging

There’s something cosmic about swinging, a certain je ne sais quoi. When I saw Teena Marie Fancey’s Baby Boy at The Craig Gallery on Dartmouth, Nova Scotia’s waterfront a couple of years ago, I knew I had found a great opening image for a paean to swings. Thanks Teena. (more…)

Have You Heard What They’re Saying About RISK? Listen Then Share

Generally speaking, parents want their kids to experience the fullness of the world – the quiet beauty, the dizzying adventure, the discovery of self and others. As much as possible we want to keep hurt and injury at bay but they too are part of the mix with cuts, scrapes and breaks both corporeal and psychological. So how do we go about assessing risk? How do we ensure that our kids aren’t enclosed in a cocoon of safety?

I saw this video a couple of nights ago and thought I would play a small role in helping to spread the word. Right now it’s at 373 views. After you’ve watched it, please share with your friends and your broader network.

Thanks to the Alliance for Childhood and KaBOOM! for producing this piece.

From The Playground To The Podium

From the playground to the podium, this is how the Canadian Olympic Committee characterizes the physical fitness and sports continuum. To produce international calibre athletes we have to start young. Physical activity, exercise and games are critical from an early age.

So I wonder where today’s top athletes played as kids and where the stars of the future are playing now?

World Cup Rugby action from Auckland, New Zealand is one of this weekend’s big ticket items in international sports. On Sunday, the All Blacks take on France in the final on their home turf. Minutes before the game gets underway at Eden Park stadium, there will be some serious play as the All Blacks throw down their traditional challenge in the form of the haka.

Here’s a look at some New Zealand playgrounds (thanks again to flickr photographers) where future members of the All Blacks squad could be in early training now – developing their dexterity, building their strength and testing their physical limits.

Auckland’s best playgrounds are the subject of this New Zealand Herald story from 2010. There are some great images associated with this story too – just look for the photo link below and to the right of the story headline. So if you’re in Auckland over the weekend and looking for a positive and fun vibe before the final kicks off, check some of these playgrounds. The city also has a comprehensive online list of playgrounds that includes maps and equipment inventories but no photos.

Miramar Central School, Wellington, New Zealand. Photo credit – Mike Riversdale – Creative Commons, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Of course the playground to podium continuum flows in the opposite direction too. In North America, particularly in the US, there is a strong commitment to community and to play from a number of professional sports franchises. Some have teamed up with playground advocates like KaBOOM!

Back to rugby. I’d love to be there on Sunday hooting and hollering with the best of them, rooting for the All Blacks. It’s not that I don’t like the French. I lived in France for a couple of years as a kid during Pierre Villeneuve’s reign as captain of the French squad. No, it’s just that I like the All Blacks more. It is their esprit de corps and their ferociousness that appeal to me.

If you have any stories about sports and playgrounds (professional or amateur) we’d love to hear them @playgroundology or playgroundology@gmail.com.

A Headline To Make Any City Proud

Casey is city of playgrounds proclaims a headline in a recent edition of the Cranbourne Leader, a daily published in Australia’s Victoria State. It’s a small yet wonderful story. It’s not often that local governments are commended for their commitment to playspaces, or choose to market their playground assets.

The story was picked up from a City of Casey news release that speaks to the local government’s development of a playground strategy in 2010. As it turns out, playground strategies are popular in Australia’s town and cities judging by the number that are posted online.

In many countries, local governments are the stewards of public space play. They make the zoning, planning, design, procurement and budgetary decisions. In the best case scenarios, the management of public play spaces presents opportunities for civic engagement through advisory committees, neighbourhood mobilization and other avenues.

To date, I’ve only come across one program, Playful City USA developed by KaBOOM!, whose primary intent is to recognize best practices of local governments and their residents in making play a priority in their community. It is a model that could be adapted to other jurisdictions to encourage and assist communities to build on the good work for play that they have underway.

Bravo to the City of Casey and to local media for reporting on the city’s commitment to play.

Cheap Thrills – Playgrounding on Vacation

Has there been ample traipsing around museums, trudging through shopping centres, interminable amusement park screeling and screeching, enough blue-lipped, sand-encrusted, beachy shivering for your young ones this vacation?

Aground – La Grave, Magdalen Islands, Canada

For the seven or eight and under crowd, maybe it’s time for a playground holiday visit. They’re fun fueled, inexpensive, physically active outings. Often there’s unfamiliar equipment for the kids to scramble about on, something they’ve never seen before. And what better place to meet local kids for fleeting friendships.

Red and Yellow – Fatima, Magdalen Islands, Canada

This August we’ve had a week in the islands, The Magdalen Islands in Canada’s Gulf of the St. Lawrence. We’ve hit a few playgrounds between beach and backyard games. The kids want a return engagement with every one of them. Here’s a quick slide show of les terrains de jeux des Iles.

Morning Skies – L’Étang du nord, Magdalen Islands, Canada

Tips for holiday playground hunting:

- check the local town or city’s website, if you’re lucky playgrounds will be listed. One of the best I’ve come across is New York City;

- check the local school board for a listing of schools. Inquire to determine if school playgrounds are accessible after hours and during summer holidays. Unfortunately that’s not the case in all jurisdictions;

- check the KaBOOM! Playspace Finder, great for US and parts of Canada;

- if you’re very lucky there will be a local playground blogger where you’re going. Here’s a little shameless promotion of my Halifax, Nova Scotia – PlayGround Chronicles. Other playground bloggers are noted in the left hand column;

- ask, or do the wander walkabout.

Country hills – Ile d’Entrée, Magdalen Islands, Canada

Happy vacation…

Let’s Play, Play, Play in St. Andrews By-The-Sea

It’s always a treat to unexpectedly come across a playground jewel. I love those sweet spot moments when I first see a new playscape that will become the subject of a PlayGroundology post.
Click photos to enlarge

On the rare occasions that I travel for work, the discoveries usually take place before the business day begins. I then have to wait patiently until the following morning, or the end of the work day to return to the site and shoot some photos. This was the case recently in St. Andrews By-The-Sea in southwestern New Brunswick on the Canadian shore of Passamaquoddy Bay.

At the St. Andrews Creative Playground, ten towers march skyward creating vertical sightlines for the many walkways, ramps and bridges that connect and lead to a variety of play areas. In addition to standard climbing, swinging and sliding stations, there are opportunities to test balancing prowess, play a tune on percussive pipes, let your fingers do the walking on an etched maze, or play tic-tac-toe with wooden blocks.

There are wonderful decorative touches throughout the playground including a red-spiked green dragon that wraps around one of the structures, fired tiles and concrete squares with symbols, names and collages embedded in a wall and a do-it-yourself pegboard art station.

In keeping with attention to details, a standard plastic tube swirl slide has two plexiglass windows installed on either side at the launch point. Small ones can look out and wave before they push off and whoosh momentarily through the darkness to the circle of light below. This is a customized design element that I haven’t seen anywhere else.

In 1993, Leathers & Associates from Ithaca, New York led the community in the design and building of this playground. Bob Leathers got his start in the playground world in the early 1970s when he was asked to organize people to build a playground at his children’s school. Since then, he’s been to every US state and seven countries with his brand of kid consultation and community build. Toronto’s High Park playground is another of his Canadian creations.

With an estimated lifespan of 25 years, there is still time for lots of laughter and play at the St. Andrews Creative Playground. If you’re in the neighbourhood of a playground designed by Leathers & Associates, take a moment and let your kids explore, run and play. They’ll love you for it.
Click on photo above for flickr slideshow.

NoteTomorrow, KaBOOM! will celebrate its 2,000th build in Washington, D.C. with a little help from First Lady Michelle Obama. Bravo for bringing communities, kids and playgrounds together and a big hats off to the KaBOOM! team for their social enterpreneur prowess.

Calling all Dads, Attention les Papas – KaBOOM’s Pledge for Play

My friends at KaBOOM! are encouraging us all to take a pledge for play. What a magnificent idea. The pledge means a commitment of time on our part, time well spent with our children exploring their abilities, their potential, their laughter, their fun.

Here it is in all its simplicity:

I believe that my child needs to play outdoors, every day. Regular play outdoors makes children happier, healthier, smarter, more socially adept, more independent, and more creative. By pledging today, I add my voice to the growing movement of fathers who are committed to restoring play to childhood.

I’m in Toronto on business and took Kerala’s call to action to heart. Serendipitously, I have a daughter here who I was able to do some playgrounding with. Never mind that she’s in her late 20s, we had a fine time at Christie Pitts swinging and spinning.

So smile, stand up and be counted. Take the pledge for play right here.

When I get back to Halifax, I’ll be taking my wee ones out to run, climb, take big gulps of air and laugh because to play is to be.