Kids need places to play, and those playgrounds need to encourage community, exploration, and more. Designing a good playground can be harder than it sounds, it’s not as easy as putting a slide in a park and hoping that’s enough. A good playground has risk and challenges the players.
In New York City there is a new spot for kids called play:groundNYC that is unlike other modern parks. This park has tools so kids can try to build things and the grounds are designed to encourage kids to try and experiment with the tools and obstacles present on the site. It’s like an adventure park!
The adventure or “wild” playground movement has risen in response to this overprotectiveness. Its advocates argue that less adult supervision may be more developmentally rewarding for children. There are hundreds of adventure playgrounds in the world, most of them in Western Europe. (The concept was invented in Denmark in the 1930s.) There are about a half-dozen in the United States, with twice as many in the pipeline; numbers are imprecise because the definition of what exactly qualifies as an adventure playground varies. One that undoubtedly does qualify is Adventure Playground in Berkeley, California, a 37-year-old local landmark.
Urban parks can greatly improve the quality of a neighbourhood and it can improve the wellbeing of all people in the area. Of all the users of a park kids may benefit the most. A park in a city gives kids a place to play and it helps them mentally too.
The study authors suggest that green spaces may have a positive effect both directly and indirectly. “Green spaces provide children with opportunities to develop mental skills such as discovery and creativity,” says co-author Payam Dadvand, a physician and researcher at the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona. More indirectly, green spaces may help by reducing exposure to air pollution and noise, increasing physical activity, and enriching microbial input from the environment, all of which have been associated with improved mental development, he says. When the researchers measured and factored in traffic-related air pollution, which is higher in places with fewer plants and trees, they found that it accounted for 20 to 65 percent of the observed association between greenness and cognitive development. Air pollution has been shown to have neurotoxic effects, Dadvand says.
TradeCity: Toronto is a new expeirmental art game made by Golboo Amani that begins April 1st (no fooling’) and runs to the 12th. The game is set in Toronto and you need to physically traverse the city to play the game. TradeCity will expose players to really cool organizations in the city that they may have previously been unaware of.
I’ve had the chance to help Golboo on this project as an advisor so it’s really exciting to see the game about to start. You should sign up soon as space is limited and it looks like it’s going to be a some bizarre fun!
TradeCity: Toronto beta is a live reality game that takes place from April 1st to 12th 2014, throughout Metro Toronto. TradeCity is an experimental art project by Toronto-based artist Golboo Amani. Amani has partnered up with various co-operative communities to design an exciting game that is both fun and challenging!
TradeCity:Toronto is an adventure based game that explores Toronto by asking Players to compete in site-specific as well as virtual challenges. There are dozens of chances to win prizes by demonstrating your gaming skills!
To play you must register in person on April 1, 2014 from 7pm to 9pm at TradeCity: Toronto beta Headquarters, University of Toronto Art Centre, 15 King’s College Circle. Players can register as a team or as individual players. You must be 18 years or older to play.
Having zero tolerance policies in schools is a truly horrible way to treat children. It can blunt curiosity and punish severely for minor infractions, combine such oppressive control with bizarre rules (like no playing schoolyard games) and you’ll bored, agitated and disengaged kids. When children aren’t able to express themselves in more traditional ways (like play), they tend to lash out.
With all of that in mind, a school in Aukland decided to toss out the rules. The results were a decrease in bullying and an increase in attentive learning!
Instead of a playground, children used their imagination to play in a “loose parts pit” which contained junk such as wood, tyres and an old fire hose.
“The kids were motivated, busy and engaged. In my experience, the time children get into trouble is when they are not busy, motivated and engaged. It’s during that time they bully other kids, graffiti or wreck things around the school.”
Parents were happy too because their children were happy, he said.
But this wasn’t a playtime revolution, it was just a return to the days before health and safety policies came to rule.
AUT professor of public health Grant Schofield, who worked on the research project, said there are too many rules in modern playgrounds.
“The great paradox of cotton-woolling children is it’s more dangerous in the long-run.”
Society’s obsession with protecting children ignores the benefits of risk-taking, he said.
A game based on the story Half the Sky puts players into a perspective usually different than their own: a young girl in the developing world. It teaches young gamers in the developed world empathy and what it’s like to be a young girl trying to make a living in the majority world. It’s always nice to see games being used to make the world a little better.
If you succeed at certain tasks, the game triggers donations through partner charities. For example, the game has donated a quarter-million books. Players can also use real money to purchase virtual items — and that money has brought in more than $450,000 in charitable donations.
Since it launched nearly a year ago, more than 1.1 million people have played Half the Sky. Though that’s nothing compared to a game like Farmville, still it makes Half the Sky one of the most successful advocacy games.