What's the plan?
On the large playground at a church in Central Jamaica Plain, a small team of dedicated professionals and parents are creating an area of about 22,000 square feet dedicated to adventure play and building, an Adventure Playground- the first in decades of its kind in the Boston area.
What is an Adventure Playground?
An Adventure Playground is a space in which children can play with objects and tools that encourage optimal risk, creativity, independence and adventure. This type of play is essential to growing resilient children with the capacity to thrive in a complex future.
Unlike the overly safe modern playground, children in an Adventure Playground assess risk and create their own environments for play by interacting with real-world items -- wood, cardboard, rope, tarps, mechanical parts, paint, and hand tools. They are truly free to play as they like: Building, making up games, pretending, creating, dismantling, inventing.
Play is supervised by trained Playworkers who support without directing the children’s play, removing hazards while helping children to manage their own risks. Playwork is a distinct, professional approach and we are excited to be a part of the movement to return play to childhood!
Adventure Play in Action
To get things moving, we will set up a SHED containing a variety of materials for building and play with "loose parts," including but not limited to:
- Tools, Cardboard, wood, duct-tape, nails, bicycle parts, tubes, wire, rope, paint, clay, brushes, etc.
- Kids will also play with water, mud, sticks and branches, rocks, trees, pine cones and all varieties of Nature’s original “toys.”
The area will be fenced in and trained Playworkers will be on hand at all times to supervise, and help when asked. Unless there is a specific hazard, they will hold back and let the kids lead. This will be a parent-free zone for kids 4 and up; Adventure Play is not directed by adults!
The History of Adventure Playgrounds
Adventure Playgrounds have been around since the 1930s, when Danish landscape architect C. Th. Sørensen noticed how rarely children preferred structured play at playgrounds to more exploratory play in the dirt and mud of undeveloped lots. He proposed that urban areas especially needed “a junk playground in which children could create and shape, dream and imagine a reality.”
There are hundreds of Adventure Playgrounds in Europe, but very few in the U.S., due to concerns over liability, visibly messy spaces, and the fear of letting children take risks. JP Green School is fortunate to have a great outdoor space with supportive landlords, and we are putting all the pieces in place to open an Adventure Playground on June 29, 2019.
Risk vs. Hazard
Play scholars define a hazard as a "danger in the environment that could seriously injure or endanger a child and is beyond the child’s capacity to recognize." Risk is defined as "the challenges and uncertainties within the environment that a child can recognize and learn to manage by choosing to encounter them while determining their own limits."
It is the job of a Playworker to remove hazards for children, not risks, thereby enabling children to build confidence in their own ability to navigate the world. (ref)
Show Me the Money
Adventure Play New England will open on June 29th, 2019 at 85 Seaverns Avenue, Jamaica Plain. We have 22,000 square feet to offer children in the greater Boston area for free play! The location is conveniently accessible by T and there is street parking available. Summer hours will be 10-5 Monday-Saturday. Cost: $7 per child, 2 for $12.
We hope to fill our play space over time with many of these items!
- Duct tape
- Wood stumps
- Kitchen cookware (pots, pans, ladles, spoons, cupcake tray, cookie tray...)
- Tools (rakes, shovels, watering can, brooms)
- Cardboard tubes
- Dress-up clothes (hats, glasses, ties, capes, wigs, scarves- open ended gear only)
- Canvas tops
- Nuts and bolts
- Rug samples
- Wood chips
- Heavy-duty containers (that can be reused/for storage/all sizes)
- Cardboard boxes
- Rope or string
- 2x4 Planks of wood
- Wooden spools
- Milk crates
- Old cameras (working or not)
- tires (not car tires) bike, tractor
- Old playground equipment
- Clips and clasps
- Thick sticks or logs
- PVC tubes and connectors
Want to learn more? Volunteer? Donate materials? Help us build this?
Email us at email@example.com
or visit our website at Adventure Play New England
APNE is a project of JP Green House, a registered 501c3 corporation. APNE and JP Green House are not affiliated with Hope Central Church and run as a completely secular organization.
Risks and challenges
We have done a significant amount of research regarding the challenges that opening an Adventure Playground present. We've been in contact with currently open playgrounds around the nation, gathering data and gleaning information. From this research, we've identified the most challenging aspects of this project...
The success of an adventure playground relies on the quality of staff training and support. Playworkers are the heart of such endeavors. In the United Kingdom, playwork is a profession that is shaped by a robust training system that includes university-level coursework and on-site apprenticeship. While we hope that the United States might one day offer that level of systematic training, at present our best option currently is to hire a playworker from Pop Up Adventure Play to come and train our enthusiastic staff. We are confident that they will help to guide us through the initial stages of running an adventure playground.
How viable is this model, financially? As a non-profit organization without federal, state, or municipal support (that aims to be welcoming to all), we face the challenge of creating a funding model that works long term. We are committed to paying playworkers a living wage, and to paying our landlords (a church) a fair rent. We need to cover insurance and materials. We are looking to raise enough money now to fund our first year of operations while we monetize the model. Based on consulting with other APs across the country, we envision combining grants, classes, summer camps, private events, and a modest fee per child to sustain the model.
Another challenge is safety issues that arise from children working with tools, etc. This challenge directly embodies the goal of the playground and is handled daily with risk management done by the playworkers and their ever-present watchful eye. Further, through communication with our surrounding community, we have experienced first-hand that parents and caregivers are broadly aware of the need to introduce risk into play, yet are often frustrated by how to do this.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)