With the introduction of new technology that seems to be making leaps and bounds every day, it is easier than ever to overlook the importance of outdoor play for the youth in America today. Most of us can recall a time in our lives when we experienced the joy of playing on a playground, so why is it important for the future generations to experience the same thing? There are 5 key reasons why playgrounds aren’t just important to the youth today, but essential to communities going forward.
1. Promotes Outdoor Physical Activity
In a digital world it can sometimes be easy to forget the importance of outdoor physical activity. Playing outside not only directly impact the overall physical well being of children, but also impacts their mental state as well. Outdoor play has been proven to improve the overall mood in children, reduce stress, and even depression. With mental health growing in awareness and importance, it is crucial to connect the benefits of both physical in mental health in outdoor play spaces. Outdoor physical activity also gives individuals the opportunity to simulate all five sense in a way that indoor activity cannot. Developing a strong awareness of the five senses and how they shape your life is imperative in the early stages of child development. And let’s not forget about the physical strength built while swinging from the monkey bars or climbing up the fun new structures today’s playgrounds have to offer!
2. Positive Impact Inclusive Playgrounds Have in a Community
There are an endless number of activities children with disabilities miss out on but when it comes to play, no one should have to sit on the sidelines. With modern day research and new products coming out every year, the playground no longer must be a space where children with a disability feel isolated. Inclusive playgrounds do much more than just provide a play space, they provide access for children of all abilities to interact and share those experiences together. According to research, for every 1000 people between the ages of 3-21, there are 85 people with a disability. This is almost 10% of people in that age range that could now have a safe place to play and express themselves creatively. Inclusive playgrounds allow experiences between various groups, ages, and disabilities that might not happen anywhere else.
3. Play is Crucial in Child Development
There has been a plethora of research done on the importance of play in a child’s development and the evidence supporting that play equals learning is quite clear. While many children are couped up in a classroom for 7+ hours a day, the outdoors provides a natural classroom in which play, and learning can be authentic, experiential, and relevant. Some see recess at school as a time to let kids get their energy out, but outdoor play is so much more than just a time for scheduled leisure, but a time for dynamic learning opportunities. Play can also be a huge factor in children learning to lead, care, and trust, which ultimately forms friendships.
4. Beneficial for All Age Ranges
It is no secret that children of all ages and capabilities need play in their life, but what makes the play equipment and surfacing appropriate for various age ranges? For starters, the play surfacing of any play area should always be in compliance with IPEMA, which means it should meet the requirements for the critical fall height of the play equipment. As far as the equipment on a playground, what’s appropriate for a 12-year-old, may not be appropriate for a toddler. For example, the brain goes through an enormous amount of development in the very early stages of life (3-5). The play equipment should help support that development of the brain by providing an inclusive environment with sensory play materials in order to provide a solid foundation for the brain. In the next stage of a child’s brain development (5-12) it is important for them to be challenged in a play environment in order to promote teamwork and creativity.
5. Promotes Creative Play
The only thing more limitless than what can be done when designing a playground is the amount of different creative experiences a child can have while experiencing a play space. Creative play can be promoted in all aspects of the design process. From incorporating intricate designs, textures, and colors in the surfacing to the endless themes and sensory play materials, there are an unlimited number of solutions when it comes to promoting creativity in a play area. Being able to play in an environment that encourages imagination and creativity promotes to children to express their differences and embrace them all together.
Robertson Recreational Surfacing specializes in safe, inclusive designs for all your playground surfacing needs. Call us today for more information or to get a quote.