giving back

Community: Get Out There and Play

giving backbettering communities

The yellow bus chugged away a half an hour ago, and yet, I hear nothing outside. No laughter, no games of chase, no bike riders wiping out ... nothing. It’s quiet, and honestly, that quiet bothers me.

I know most people like to hear wind rustling through leaves or maybe even the sound of birds, but me, I like the sound of play. Play is missing from my neighborhood and my guess is play is probably missing from yours, too. According to KaBoom, a nonprofit dedicated to saving play of America’s children, The Play Deficit is a national problem.

I remember my favorite park as a child. A giant, pipe-like, jungle gym with faded out, colored pieces connected bars and hosted legions of climbers. Two metal slides stood on the tree line; one twenty-five feet high for the risk takers and a smaller version for the weak. Two wooden teeter-totters allowed me to assist the bossy, neighbor girl in accidentally becoming airborne. A saucer with the metal head of a smiling bear allowed riders to sail in endless circles.

Kids could spend hours at parks, and they did. But today, even with elaborate outdoor, plastic kingdoms, play is sparse.

Wooden play sets remain empty, some of the  best trampolines from local Soft Play Manufacturers are underused, and bikes, well, it’s much too dangerous to actually ride bikes, so bikes take up space in garages. Parents shuttle kids back and forth to activities, technology remains on, and fear about safety often trumps common sense.

The results of less play for our kids means many things:

  • Communities in which neighbors don’t know neighbors
  • Childhood obesity
  • Stifled creativity and stagnant imaginations
  • Stunted social development
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Lack of connectedness with others

The bottom line: we need play. Play is necessary. Play is vital. Play enhances our lives and our communities.

KaBoom knows this and that’s why KaBoom has built over 2,000 playgrounds across the country. And guess what? Kaboom awards grants to playgrounds in need of a little sprucing up, tips on DIY play space improvements, and is working to map and rate local playgrounds across the United State.

Now that’s putting play first.

Is play happening in your neighborhood? Do your kids play? Do you?

Featured image courtesy of Flickr.

Can one beyond blessed family move from addicted to themselves to devoted to others? The author of this post shares honestly at Amy L. Sullivan about her family’s attempt to become less me, me, me focused and more others centered. Amy writes for print and online publications and is also writing a nonfiction book about serving others as a family.

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