Great news for pint-size Governors Island-goers! Play:groundNYC recently met its $25,000 crowdfunding goal for its “adventure playground” on the island right off of Lower Manhattan. The unique play area is an outdoor park modeled after a junkyard that puts to use reclaimed materials such as cardboard boxes, old tires, and discarded wood. Unlike most public play spaces, this adventure zone will be manned by three attendants and parents will actually be discouraged from entering, so as not to interfere with the creativity of kids’ play activities.
Play:groundNYC is backing the effort, which aims to provide play opportunities for kids in a very different environment than traditional playgrounds. The group has already organized several “pop up playgrounds” utilizing the same ideas, and is now seeking to build a new playspace on Governors Island. The adventure playground is planned to cover 5,000 square feet of outdoor space, but it isn’t a fixed construction project like most neighborhood or school playgrounds. Instead, children are encouraged to remake the play area by rearranging objects, building things, and dreaming up new ways to explore and have fun. Kids will have access to hammers and drills, among other tools, along with safety equipment, all intended to help them get their hands dirty in the process of having a really good time.
Kids can build towering castles from giant cardboard boxes, paint them with abstract murals, and then burn the whole thing down – all under the careful supervision of playground staff who monitor safety hazards, of course. This type of ‘open play’ inspires young imaginations to run wild, especially since meddling parents are encouraged to wait on the sidelines. In a post on Facebook upon launching the crowdfunding campaign, play:groundNYC said the play area on Governors Island “promises to be a radical exploration of what New York youth will do when they are given freedom, trust, fresh air, and space.”
The playground is expected to open this May, just in time for warmer weather to support more time for outdoor play. Fresh air and physical activity support kids’ health, and foster lifelong connections to nature. Combined with the cognitive benefits of unstructured play, NYC kids who get to visit the adventure playground this summer will be pretty lucky.
Images via play:groundNYC