Studies have determined that playgrounds are essential for the development of kids. Playgrounds are not just a place where kids go to play and have fun; it’s also where they learn movement, coordination, social interaction and cognitive skills. While kids can learn some of these skills on a traditional playground with swings, slides, monkey bars and the usual playground equipment, Imagination Playgrounds teach these skills at a higher level by allowing an unstructured learning environment.
Imagination Playgrounds are springing up all around the world. This innovative system can transform any space into a playground – indoors or outside, with no traditional equipment. Kids create their own play space using self-guided play and large foam blocks of various shapes and sizes. Using blue cubes, bricks, cogs, curves and cylinders that fit together, kids can build houses, robots, cars, flowers, chairs or whatever else they can imagine. If the kids can imagine it, they can create it. There are no instructions and no right or wrong way to play at Imagination Playgrounds. Kids learn to interact and learn problem-solving skills while physically challenging themselves to let their imagination and creativity soar.
Education and interaction with nature are two of the cornerstones of the Walsh community. In keeping with these objectives, Republic Property Group consulted with renowned architect David Rockwell, Principal of New York-based Rockwell Group, about the creation of an Imagination Playground at Walsh. After a five-year study, Rockwell Group determined that this advanced method of hands-on play and learning is vital to your child.
The Rockwell Group has helped implement Imagination Playgrounds all over the world with the firm belief that hands-on play and learning is imperative for growth. Blocks are deployed at schools, museums, churches, hospitals, and parks around the world. The project has become part of an initiative to bring play to children in developing nations. To date, the UNICEF P.L.A.Y. Project, in partnership with Disney, has brought the blocks to more than 13,000 children in Bangladesh and Haiti.
We talked with Barry Richards to get a closer look at the Imagination Playground movement and a deeper understanding of the impact it has on children.
“Spaces like Imagination Playgrounds are so critical… as a baby boomer I was able to play freely outside and in the woods, building forts. And everything you found was a loose part and available outside. We need to create that environment again for kids to roam free and use their imaginations to create,”
Unlike traditional playground equipment, the Imagination Playground pieces are made of lightweight, recyclable blue foam that is waterproof, biodegradable and resistant to heat and sun. They are non-toxic and resistant to microbes and mold. And they meet American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) and US Consumer Products Safety Commission (CFSC) standards. The soft, dense foam has no sharp edges or hard metal pieces that can cause injury to the kids.
According to Richards, “Blocks can transform any space into a play space and allow kids to create their own play environment. By combining the Imagination Playground with the Maker Space at Walsh, this gives the opportunity for children to develop in a more cerebral capacity, and presents the opportunity for families of all levels to participate. Almost any space can become a learning environment and this has become part of our design discipline at Rockwell, and it’s exciting to see that Walsh has been able implement this philosophy, too.” The innovative Imagination Playground and the interactive learning Makerspace are just two more reasons to make Walsh your home.