Playgrounds as an Essential Amenity

A London organization is working to bring ‘adventure playgrounds’ to park-poor neighborhoods, arguing that outdoor play is a key factor in child development.

2 minute read

August 1, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

“In London, where over a fifth of households have no garden space and the city has an average of 866 children per playground, one charity social initiative is working to put play at the forefront of the urban agenda for building up communities in London’s low-income neighborhoods.” According to an article by Alia Waheed in NextCity, play advocates like Paul Hocker of London Play say that play is “essential for childhood development,” Waheed writes. “Ideally, safety and children’s freedom to play should be a key factor in city and town planning.”

To encourage more outdoor play, “London Play Design has a team of carpenters, engineers and play workers who build sustainable and creative adventure playgrounds in some of the most deprived areas of London.”

At its heart, adventure play is unstructured, outdoor play that encourages children to take controlled risks in supervised outdoor spaces that allow children to play freely. At London Play Design’s adventure playgrounds, children can use tools to build play structures, grow plants and care for animals under the watch of professional play workers.

The article continues, “The playgrounds are supervised by play workers who run arts and crafts sessions and homework clubs. The workers offer local low-income families an alternative to traditional models of child care, which are often prohibitively expensive, and give children the opportunity to develop skills and build support networks within their communities.”

Advocates say playgrounds are more than a luxury. “Inequality of access to outdoor play goes beyond just having somewhere to sit on the swings. It has ramifications on health, education and social outcomes for children from deprived backgrounds. In the long term, it also affects mortality rates.”

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