If you’re a city mom, you know it can sometimes be difficult to get your kids outside for playtime. If you live in an apartment or condo and don’t have a backyard of your own, you need to have a plan for your children to get their fresh air and exercise. Fortunately, people are becoming more aware of just how important it is for children to play. The environmental movement has done a lot of good for playgrounds and parks, as more natural, green space in cities often means more areas for children to play. Here are some of the benefits of playgrounds, both for you and your children, whether they’re at a school or in the public areas around your neighborhood.
1. A Chance for Kids to Be Kids and Have Fun
Playgrounds in schools and around the community provide a great opportunity for kids to be themselves, interact with peers and blow off some steam. Time spent on playgrounds is time away from the pressures of schoolwork, which is important because children can burn out if they spend too much time working. Recess and other periods of time away from strict supervision by adults also helps children learn to interact with each other and develop social skills.
Research shows that having regular recess and playground time can have a powerful impact on children’s emotions. When studies have been conducted about playgrounds, numerous adults have come forward and said they still remembered experiences they had on the playground as a child. It is true that the reason some so vividly remember these experiences is that they were teased, but some studies have shown that with recess under the right conditions playgrounds can actually decrease bullying. In Boston, teachers have reported a 90% decrease in bullying after implementing a recess program called Playworks. Playworks is program through which a coach, junior instructors and older students guide children through play and physical activity. The goal is to keep children active and reduce behavioral problems, which are often cited as administrators’ reason for cutting recess.
2. A Chance to Get Exercise
Playgrounds and outdoor spaces also give kids an opportunity to run around and get exercise, which is becoming more difficult in our technology-driven age. While in the past kids would usually have fun by going outside and playing with friends, today they’re more likely to sit inside and watch TV or play video games. Childhood obesity is a major epidemic around the country, and access to playgrounds and green spaces can help reduce this problem. A lot of playground equipment can help children get exercise — don’t you remember challenging your friends to races on the monkey bars or pushing each around the merry-go-round? Exercise can increase the amount of calories children burn, meaning fewer calories are stored by the body as fat.
Eco-Friendly Parks and Playgrounds: A Win-Win for Everyone
As mentioned above, environmental and green movements often result in more playgrounds and parks for children. More green spaces can reduce the harmful effect we have on the environmental, as plants decrease the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. In New York City, the Trust for Public Land and Department of Energy have been working together to build more playgrounds around the city.
Here are a few of the best eco-friendly parks and playgrounds around New York City.
- P.S. 261 Green Playground in Brooklyn: This is the first of the city’s green playgrounds to open. Located in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, this innovative playground helps capture storm water and keep the sewage system clean.
- High Line: Located on the west side of Manhattan, this park is an excellent example of ways the city can repurpose existing structures into beautiful parks and green spaces. In case you haven’t heard about the high line, it was built on top of an old freight rail line and features abundant greenery.
- Union Square Park: Located near 14th Street and Broadway in Manhattan, Union Square is home to the city’s first local Greenmarket. The Greenmarket not only sells delicious foods—it also has a compost program and a textile drive where you can drop off old clothing, bed sheets and other fabrics.
- Prospect Park: Located in downtown Brooklyn, Prospect Park has over 580 acres of green space and is home to Brooklyn’s only forest and freshwater lake. Much of the park was manmade, so building it had minimal impact on the environment. The park even has an eco-friendly bathroom.
Visit these spots today to give your kids the exercise and fresh air they need!