The Gift of Play

We’re in the midst of the giving season and there are always choices to make. If you’re thinking about an alternative gift this year why not consider the gift of play?

Community fundraising is frequently an important component of securing overall project costs for new playgrounds and upgrades. Check to see if there is a build, or a community group preparing for one where you live. A few dollars, or maybe an extra pair of hands are sure to be appreciated.

Beyond local activity in your own town, there are numerous organizations that promote and advocate for play. They do educational work, research, outreach and some do actual playground builds. Many of these groups have charitable status and I think it’s safe to say that none of them are really flush with cash.

One thing that these play related groups have in common is dedicated and passionate staff and a cadre of volunteers that help them achieve their goals. I’m thinking of organizations like KaBOOM!, Play England, Play Scotland, Play Wales, Playworks and numerous others that I’m not familiar with. They are all doing great work.

One group that jumped out for me is PlaygroundIDEAS. They were the subject of a Screenshot Monday back in June when I wrote:

“What I immediately enjoyed at PlaygroundIDEAS was the sense of resourcefulness that informs their approach to do-it-yourself playgrounds. There is hope here too and dreams – just look at the wonderful iconography of a child swinging from a shade bearing cloud. Playground Ideas works with a clientele that is far too populous.

We design and build great playspaces to improve the education, wellbeing, and safety of the world’s most disadvantaged children – and we support and train others to do the same.

Registering on the site provides access to more material such as the Playground Manual and the design section. It also enables readers to contribute content of their own. The registration process is quick and painless.”

One of the reasons that I’m attracted to PlaygroundIDEAS is linked to fleeting experiences of my own in the developing world. Nearly 35 years ago, I was a participant in Canada World Youth, an international exchange program funded by the Canadian government. I spent five months in three different communities in Sénégal, West Africa.

Sénégal was a revelation for us Canadian kids, most of us still in our teens. I was adopted by toddlers in each of the three places we lived. In Suelle, Casamance there was Abou, in Dakar it was Dabba and in Louga, Siouadou. Although a couple of these kids lacked material possessions, none lacked the desire, or ability to play. So why not playgrounds for kids in the developing world…

Read more about giving the gift of play here. While you’re at it, treat yourself to this rendition of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.

Happy holidays and happy giving to whoever it may be.

2 responses to “The Gift of Play

  1. Great post! There are so many wonderful ways to give the gift play–with our actions, our dollars, even the way we live our lives! Thanks for including Playworks, and thanks for the reminder of the beautiful play spaces from PlaygroundIDEAS!

    • Thanks for the kind words Beth. We can all help to make a difference in our own way. It’s good to know that there are organizations like Playworks and others referenced in the post who are out there working hard for play every day. All the best in 2012.

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