Winter Inclusive Play Activities

Figure 1. Example of Proposed Indoor Inclusive Playground in New Jersey (1)

Although the winter might seem to be coming to an end on this lovely 54 ℉ and partly sunny day in Boston, being outdoors for extended periods of time might not be ideal just yet, especially with small children. Playgrounds might still not be up to active conditions yet in recovering from the winter snow and piles of fallen leaves still on the ground so an indoor activity might be the best option for families for this long President’s Day weekend.

 

Looking through some recommendations and areas in and around the Boston area, the Playground Project: INDIGO realized that many activities require a entrance fee and do not have inclusive equipment for children of all abilities. Tara Jordan highlights nine indoor play spaces in Boston on the Mommy Nearest website which include spaces with features like interactive puzzles on the floor with Beam technology, dinosaur climbing structures, ball pits and indoor trampolines. The nine spaces vary in the amount of play area and age range focus, making sure that families can pick the most suitable option for their own children. Some other indoor play spaces in Boston are highlighted in the Mommy Poppins blog with free weekly or daily activities for kids, although these options might be less spacious than other indoor play areas.

 

Taking advantage of museum exhibits, like the Museum of Science, which always offers space for kids to play, and the Museum of Fine Arts, featuring an interesting M.C. Escher exhibit this February and March, might also satisfy a weekend family outing. Although these cultural experiences are great options, they do require purchasing a ticket which can be pricey. The Playground Project: INDIGO hopes that inclusive play be accessible to all regardless of economic ability as well, leading us to look at other alternatives for indoor play that wouldn’t break the budget.

 

Indoor activities for play that are convenient for days to stay inside the house (snow days, for example) call for creativity and provide a great opportunity to help a child develop through play. Many ideas have been published through blogs and we came across one set that even separates activities by categories of learning outcomes, like science or art, AND they are mostly made with household items! Although we think many cities need to improve winter play facilities to be accessible throughout the year, families can be inspired to create their own private space and encourage inclusive play, or check out local play spaces in museums or indoor gyms.

 

 

Sources:

 

  1. Wiener, Robert. “Inclusive Lifetown gets grant for ‘park’ : Adapted playground part of full-immersion center for special-needs kids,” NJ Jewish News. http://njjewishnews.com/article/26699/inclusive-lifetown-gets-grant-for-park?source=njjnrelated#.WnsJWainGM8
  2. Jordan, Tara. “9 Favorite Indoor Play Spaces in Greater Boston,” Mommy Nearest. (https://www.mommynearest.com/edition/boston/article/9-favorite-indoor-play-spaces-in-greater-boston)
  3. Heyworth, Kelley. “12 Free Places to Play Indoors around Boston,” Mommy Poppins. (https://mommypoppins.com/boston-kids/free-activities/12-free-places-to-play-indoors-around-boston)
  4. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. http://www.mfa.org/
  5. Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. https://www.icaboston.org/
  6. Museum of Science, Boston. https://www.mos.org/
  7. “Indoor Activities for Kids,” What Do We Do All Day. https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/indoor-activities-for-kids/

Playground Project: INDIGO New Year Update

Surveying Mayor Menino Playground- the most inclusive in the Boston Area!

Surveying Mayor Menino Playground- the most inclusive playground and space in the Boston Area!

So far this semester, the team has made good progress towards our goals. Here’s a quick update of what we’ve been up to these past couple months!

Our team has selected a conference we will be planning to present at in April: the New York State Recreation and Park Society Annual Conference and Expo. This will be the team’s second conference presentation to date, and is a fabulous opportunity for the group to share its research and network with leading experts in parks and recreation. Our team’s focus this year is to teach conference attendees how our playground scorecard works, how it can and has been used to assess the quality and inclusivity of playgrounds in and around Boston, and how parks and recreation professionals can use this data to inform decisions in regard to playground planning and design. We are looking forward to be able send a cohort to this exciting event!

Team members Durward, Hayden, and Tia have made excellent progress on updating our website. In addition to updating a lot of content, the website itself has a new streamlined theme, which should make finding info about the group and what we’ve done easier to find.

Lastly, our group has a made a point of attending more community meetings in Boston to discuss the construction of several new recreation areas in Charlestown, Dorchester, and the North End. One of the main takeaways from these meetings was understanding how communities may value different aspects of these spaces. To some communities, the playground may be the main focus of the renovation, while to others, it may be the fields for soccer or baseball, or community areas, or general park maintenance that people may find most important. Our hope in these meetings is to listen to what the community finds most important, but also to ensure that an inclusive space is build which can accommodate children, families, and adults of all interests and abilities.

Keep an eye out for more updates to follow as we move further along in the process of preparing for the upcoming conference and start to utilize our new and improved playground scorecard!

 

Throwback Thursday – Sand Gardens

Ever wonder how the modern American playground originated? We stumbled upon this revealing Boston Globe article detailing the history of playgrounds in Boston. At the end of the 19th century, open space in Boston was hard to come by. In 1885, the country’s first “sand garden” was introduced to the City of Boston- what we now refer to as a sand box.

By 1886 there were three of them in the city, by 1887 there were ten. And in 1889 an “outdoor gymnasium” opened in the West End, including 10-acres of swings, see-saws, and sand. In his 1897 inaugural address, Mayor Quincy proposed that every ward in Boston should have a playground, igniting the “playground movement”. By 1906, the Playground Association of America had held its first meeting.

The sandbox may now seem a bit outdated, as playgrounds have evolved to include more inclusive play elements. Boston’s commitment to safe and available play has persisted well into the 21st century, with the focus on inclusivity improving with each passing decade.

Read the full article here: https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2014/03/28/how-american-playground-was-born-boston/5i2XrMCjCkuu5521uxleEL/story.html

Thomas M. Menino Park

Last Saturday our team set off on the Orange Line for the momentous annual Super Survey Day. We began our morning at Mayor Thomas M. Menino Park in Charlestown. The park was a product amidst the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombings, and sits directly across from Spaulding Rehabilitation Center. The playground is accessible by bus from North Station, or is approximately a 30 minute walk. The playground allows for inclusive play with many accessible elements, including embankment slides, wheelchair swings, and poured rubber surfaces. Spaulding Playground holds a place very close to our hearts, and serves as an excellent example of the bold and bright potential of inclusive play.

Spaulding Playground

After surveying the playground near Spaulding Rehabilitation Center, we ventured off to get a quick bite together at a local Charlestown restaurant, then split into groups of 3 to survey smaller playgrounds in the neighborhood. This let us see more of Charlestown than we otherwise would, and we came across some very pleasant neighborhoods as a result.

Marcella Playground

Location: Jamaica Plain
Age Groups: All ages
Inclusivity/Inclusive Elements: water play, garden, telescope, playhouse, alphabet/numbers game, hammock, disc swing, merry-go-round
Features:
-Fence divides older and younger play
-Large rope climbing structure
-Rubber surfaces
-Bathrooms, water fountains, and trash
Great if you’re looking for:
-A playground with options for all ages
Keep looking if:
-You really need shade
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We’re back!

Hello! Welcome back to another fall semester. We welcome to the team two new members: Dan Ostberg, a chemical engineering student, and Tia Thompson, a design student! We are so excited to have them on board and look forward to the upcoming year.

 

Progress is already underway for Carter Field along Southwest Corridor Park, between the Squashbusters Badger and Rosen Center and the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex (ISEC). The space is the result of a unique public-private partnership between the city of Boston and Northeastern University and will expand by about 25% with the addition of the existing Camden parking lot into the new park.  The new children’s playground will be named after Victoria McGrath, a Northeastern student who was injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and who tragically died last year.

 

Over the summer, team member Durward completed a summer independent research fellowship, making public much of our data collected over the past 3 years. Users can now see a list of all of the playgrounds we have surveyed and their scores. A map can be use to filter desired play spaces. You can check it out at scorecard.playgroundprojectindigo.org!

US Play Coalition’s National Play Conference Wrap-up

This past weekend seven of us travelled down to Clemson, South Carolina for the US Play Coalition Conference. Starting Sunday afternoon and stretching until Tuesday night were a series of talks held by some of the most innovative and exciting experts in the Playground and Parks and Recreation Field. We were thrilled to meet the leaders of Magical Bridge and Harper’s Playground to share some tips on inclusive play, as well as chat about inclusivity with top manufacturing professionals and designers. Nothing made this more evident than joining the Inclusive Play sub-committee, which should help promote inclusive play throughout the year.

We presented our work on our Quantitative Playground Survey. Detailing exactly how it was developed, what it focused on, and our two different applications on a national and regional level. Thankfully, it was well received, with several follow up questions asked by Ingrid Kanics, a leader in the inclusive play field. We were excited to share our survey with the group, and hope that it will be used to help spread the message about inclusive play.

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We hope to feature some of our favorite talks in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned.

Titus Sparrow Playground

  • Location: South End
  • Age Groups: All Ages
  • Inclusivity/Inclusive Elements: Xylophone, car wheel + gear, sandbox and scoopers, bar
  • Features:
    • Bench features a solar panel in the middle where you can charge your phone
    • Sand diggers
    • Church in background is very scenic
    • Basketball court provides good functionality
  • Great if you’re looking for:
    • An inclusive, constructive play setup
    • The sandbox and the wheel accessible sand scoopers are excellent inclusive features to this playground
  • Keep looking if:
    • You really need shade

Healy Field Update

We have just been updated on the renovation status of Healy Field in Roslindale. Construction is scheduled to begin this Spring now that Fallon Field, another major Roslindale playground, has re-opened this fall. We are particularly invested in Healy Field because we met with the design team at Copley Wolff last spring. In the meeting, we discussed ways to better incorporate inclusivity in their initial designs. You can find the original plans and our feedback in our Healy Report. You may remember us talking about this meeting in our first blog post.

We are proud to see that some of our suggestions were included in the final design. Some examples include a relocation of the stream to allow for better navigation across the park, the reduction of the non-inclusive netted climbing structure, and a replacement of the original merry-go-round with a wheelchair accessible version that is flush to the ground. More details of the final design were analyzed by our friends over at Roslindale Wants to Play which you can find linked below.

 

https://roslindaleplaygrounds.org/2017/02/24/healy-field-design-update/

On the Road Again: The US Play Coalition’s National Play Conference

Big news! Our group has been accepted to the US Play Coalition’s National Play Conference. This year’s theme is “Where Design Meets Play” and it will be held in Clemson, South Carolina. Seven of our members will be traveling to present our survey and research from April 2nd through 5th. We will attend workshops, listen to presentations, and network with other experts in their field. Examples of presentations include: “Play for all: inclusive play space design”, “Bringing play into the architecture curriculum”, and “Playing on two wheels”. This will be a great opportunity to share our message while learning more about the greater play community, and may help to direct our future endeavors. Stay tuned for post-conference updates!

It will be great to learn more about what is new and innovative in the realm of play and expand our reach at a national conference. We are so excited to present the work we’ve put in over the last four years. It will be interesting to see how other organizations can use and apply the survey throughout the world.