Playspaces are outdoor areas for children, particularly spaces without traditional playground equipment. Most urban areas have a lack of space for youth to safely play outdoors. Places with high amounts of vacancy often overlap with places that have few organized activities for youth. This means there is a huge opportunity and need for vacant lots to be converted into playspaces for kids. Playspaces provide safe places for kids to play, as well as a relaxing atmosphere for parents to care for kids. They create a space for community gatherings and encourage outdoor exercise.
Note: These suggestions should only be used in tandem with the full process for reclaiming vacant land outlined here.
1. Hold a neighborhood meeting with families with children. Recruit a friend to help facilitate an activity for the kids in which they sketch their dream playspace. Meanwhile, facilitate a conversation with the parents to brainstorm ideas for the playspace, discuss rules for the space, and allow them the opportunity to voice any concerns.
2. Hold volunteer days to create your playspace. Find ways to get kids involved in actually creating the space. They’ll feel much more connected to it if they can say, “I made that!”
SUITABILITY AND CONSIDERATIONS
When most people think of a playspace, they think of traditional playground equipment: swing sets, a slide, and some monkey bars with woodchips underfoot. However, there are much more inexpensive, environmentally friendly, and creative ways to make a space that is welcoming for kids to play in. Playspaces can contain natural and recycled elements that prove to be just as fun as plastic and metal. Some examples include jumping logs, tire steps, sandboxes, and chess stumps.
To create a playspace, the qualities of the vacant lot being used will have to be considered. Check out the lot assessment page to see how different aspects of the site will affect how you should arrange your playspace. Safety concerns are likely to come up when talking with neighbors about the playspace. Consider elements of your vacant lot that could cause safety concerns. Are there trees with dead branches on the site? Poison ivy? Is a fence needed to keep kids from running into the street?
- Logs, stumps, or wood slabs
- Kid-friendly plants