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Dec 04

Adventure Playground

Adventure Playground for Healthy Development?

Is it possible that we are too protective of our children? We want them to be safe and remove all dangerous items from their reach, very understandable!
But is is actually the best thing for their development?
Lady Marjory Allen of Hurtwood was a landscape architect and children’s advocate. She wanted to design playgrounds with loose parts that kids could move around and manipulate, to create their own makeshift structures. But more important, she wanted to encourage a “free and permissive atmosphere” with as little adult supervision as possible. The idea was that kids should face what to them seem like “really dangerous risks” and then conquer them alone. That, she said, is what builds self-confidence and courage.
“The Land” is an adventure playground in  North Wales, UK. It is staffed  with professionally trained “playworkers” who keep an eye on the kids. They hardly ever intervene though, and in the 2 years since the playground opened, the only injuries were an occasional scrapped knee, something you can get on any playground.
A lot of today’s toys are battery operated or electric,  you have to push a button to have the toy do certain things. Sometimes, that does not leave much to the imagination. You might be able to create something with the toy, like with a Video Game, but the initial creation of the “toy” is gone.
I am sure a lot of people from the older generations, know what I am talking about. You used sticks to make bows and arrows and carved a gun out of a piece of wood to play Cowboys and Indians. Climbed up on a tree and pretended to be a Pirate on their ship, on the lookout for another ship to conquer. Put a board against a tree and make your own slide…..
Playgrounds today are designed with safety in mind, neat and clean.
I have seen kids tell other kids that they were playing the wrong way with a toy. They saw commercials about the toy and the way the kids in that commercial handled the toy, and that’s how they played with that toy when they got it. The kids that did not see the commercial however, used their imagination on what they could do with the toy. It was quite an eye opener.

Watch the video to get a glimpse of “The Land”, when I showed it to my kids, they thought it was a junkyard at first and that the children were homeless kids. When they were done watching it, they said:” I want to go there!”

An excerpt from The Land, a documentary by Vermont-based filmmaker Erin Davis

 Read more about “The Land” and Lady Marjory Allen of Hurtwood at  http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/03/hey-parents-leave-those-kids-alone/358631/

The next video focuses on the staffed adventure playgrounds Lady Allen created in the 1960s and 1970s to provide play opportunities for disabled children.
Warning: at times the language used in the video to describe the children is old-fashioned, inappropriate, and even offensive to today’s ears – though in Lady Allen’s day the terms were standard. Also, the quality of the video isn’t the best. But do not let any of this put you off, or you will miss out on as clear a manifesto for adventurous play as you are ever likely to see.

 

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