How to Engage your Community and Begin a Play Movement

Everyone is nostalgic when it comes to play. You remember growing up playing hopscotch and tag, and for me I remember playing Red Rover and our own version of “Survivor” on the playground in elementary school. Children look forward to recess after lunch, where they can hang with their friends and get a break from class.

Recently, with the focus being on success and academia, some people are giving play a negative name.  For example, a New York mother sued her child’s school for being “one big playroom.” The law suit said “A toddler who takes the wrong first step could ultimately trip up his or her chances for acceptance into an Ivy League college and for earning a higher income.”

With this outlook, play will be removed from all classrooms in the future. Even if it is removed,  which it shouldn’t, there are still things parents can do to ensure their child is getting the creative, fun and play time they deserve.

Growing up, I played with my neighbors almost everyday, and if I didn’t I surely threw a fit to my parents. Running around the neighborhood and occasional block parties were my favorite. Play was my favorite and I grew, learned and flourished because of it.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a community that supports play, and ensured our community was safe for play. If you feel your community is not supportive or safe enough for play, I have some tips and suggestions to change it around and begin a neighborhood play movement.

  1. Hold a town meeting and voice your opinion: If you see a potential in your community for safer play, bring it to everyone’s attention. During a town meeting, give your reasoning on why your community isn’t safe enough for your children to play. Garner support from your neighbors and see what other parent’s feel the same way.
  2. Hold a community field day: Especially since children are using technology more and more, ensuring children have enough outdoor play is essential. Hold a community field day where each family is required to bring 1 game/toy for children to use during the day. For example, a family could bring jump ropes, a soccer ball or chalk. Having the community together outside will strengthen your community and ensure the children are safe.
  3. Hold a play-sitter’s club: If you need to run on errands where your children will be left with nothing to do, or just playing on their technologies, leave them at a neighbors house where they can play, explore and be outside. Rather than hiring a baby sitter for an hour, make a community agreement with neighbors where they will watch your children, without compensation, for a short period of time. During this time children will play with neighbors outdoors. The favor will be returned whenever your neighbor needs your help.
  4. Purchase a “kids at play” sign: This may seem silly, but when someone spots the signs they become aware of their surroundings and will slow down in your neighborhood. Having a sign will ensure safe play for your children and community.

These tips are just a few of the things a community can do to ensure safe play. For more fun ideas on play, visit Getting Outside, where there are lists for fun outdoor activities you and your family will enjoy.

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