Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Play Charter

As we've mentioned, we're working with the Municipality of Anchorage on the development of a Strategic Plan for Inclusive Playgrounds. Our current blog goal is to target our posts specific to our thoughts and findings as they relate to the development of playgrounds where play is open to all, and barriers to universal access are reduced as much as possible (with a desire to be eliminated).

When we first started working actively with play design, we created a Playspace Design Guide to act as a primer for our clients. As we put this together, we came across a Play Charter that summarized quite well what we consider to be a solid general philosophy for the importance of play.

So... since a charter can be a very important place to start. Let's start with "The Play Charter".

Children need to play

Children have a natural inclination to play. It is essential to the healthy mental, physical, emotional and social development of every child. While the needs of older children and teenagers are different from those of young children, they are no less important.

Children need freedom to play

Play takes place when children and young people get to decide what to do and who to do it with, when they negotiate their own rules and boundaries, and their imaginations are allowed free rein. It is not performed for any external goal or reward. In supervised provision, trained playworkers have an important role in supporting children to help them create and explore their own play experiences.

Children need space to play

While children can and do play indoors, it is essential that children have easy access to outdoor space for spontaneous physical activity. Every child should have places to play close to home. General community spaces, such as streets or the spaces between buildings, are important as dedicated play provision.

Children need time to play

Children should have the chance to play every day, when they are not being told what to do, who to do it with or where to go.

Children must feel safe and welcome where they play

Communities must make safe, welcoming, accessible provision for all children to play, no matter what their age, physical or mental abilities, personal circumstances or cultural background. Children and young people who are different from the majority have a right to play in the same places as other children, should they want to.

Children are the best authorities on play

Children know what they enjoy and what makes them happy. Playgrounds or other spaces and facilities that will be used for play, including school grounds, will be more successful if children and young people are meaningfully involved in their design and in decisions affecting them.

Play is everyone’s responsibility

The ability for children to play freely outside is a sign of a healthy, vibrant community. While children do not need adults to tell them how to play, parents, communities and government do have a duty to ensure that children have the chance to play every day.

(Note: We provided a link to the original, but the original has disappeared from online and we can't find any reference to it with an active link. Original credit is either attributed to and/or If someone reading it knows where the home for this charter now lies, please let us know.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Playground of Our Youth: Yellowknife

I grew up in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories in Canada. Not quite at the Arctic Circle, but pretty close. When I was there, it was a fairly remote city of around 9000 people... tucked in the grandeur of the Boreal Forest and Canadian Shield on the edge of Great Slave Lake. Starting probably at the age of 4, my memories are of living next to what felt like rocky Canadian wilderness. We played in the woods, and if we chose the right path we could easily have wandered off never to be seen again... unless we were hungry for our snack and came back.

The most important memories of my school playground were not necessarily from play equipment, but how we interacted with the landscape: the local landscape of the school's particular site, and the landscape elements that it shared with the entire region.

While these photos show a playscape somewhat different than when I was a kid, they share much of the same character... and access to all that is special and natural to the area.

I like the fact my school had a crest - J.H. Sissons Elementary School

Equipment nestled into existing greenspace.
Schoolground... boreal forest and Canadian Shield.
I remember when this timber equipment went in.
Before the stairs, this was a sledding hill (I slid right into a stump).
My old tetherball stomping grounds. Tetherball now gone.
Ahhh... a walk down memory lane. (not at my old school... a city park)

The Site's Landscape:
A Landscape of the North:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Play Can Be (really) Cerebral!

A friend made a reference to "three-sided football" (soccer). Here's the wikipedia link:

Definitely a case of a game not just being a game... but, the overall concept of a three-sided game of soccer where the score is based on how many goals are conceded (not how many are scored) sounds like it could be quite fun...

The rules: