This is a sponsored post for the Dr Pepper Snapple Group and The Motherhood. All thoughts are my own.
When you think about how your kids play now, compared to when you were a kid what are some of the biggest changes? That’s what Kristin Karcsh, a KaBOOM project manager asked a group of parents at the Boys and Girls club a couple weeks ago. It honestly was a question I hadn’t really thought of. For me, I remember play time as playing handball by our garage with neighborhood kids and going roller skating around the block. My daughter doesn’t do any of that. Her version of play is Minecraft and YouTube, no matter how many time I beg her to put the devices down. But I noticed early on in my daughter’s life, if you put a kid in a playground- they come alive with it.
Active play is a critical part of childhood development. It helps kids grow physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually, helping them to become healthy and happy adults. Keeping active through play helps both kids and families form healthy lifestyle habits which can lower the risk of obesity and its associated health issues. However, in neighborhoods without a park or playground, the incidence of childhood obesity increases 29 percent. In fact, children with a park or playground within a half-mile are almost five times more likely to be a healthy weight than children without playgrounds or parks nearby.
How many kids do you think this little playground is supposed to serve? How surprised would you be if I said this playground is supposed to be shared by over 1,700 kids annually and 360 daily. Crazy right? It looks like it can maybe fit 10 kids, and it’s meant for over 300 a day! This playground is from the Boys and Girls Club in Lincoln Heights- Los Angeles. It’s open to the community and for many children, this is the only playground near them.
When Kristin asked the kids how they felt about the current play area, the kids mentioned feeling unsafe cause it was very wobbly and that it was very small. That’s why Let’s Play is stepping in.
Let’s Play is an initiative by Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) to provide kids and families with the tools, places and inspiration to make active play a daily priority. Through Let’s Play, Dr Pepper Snapple partners with two non-profit organizations – KaBOOM! to build and improve playgrounds and Good Sports to provide grants for sports equipment – to help make active play possible. By providing underserved communities with safe, accessible playgrounds and sports equipment through its signature Let’s Play initiative, Dr Pepper Snapple Group is making play possible for more kids and doing its part to help eliminate the play deficit.
The Boys and Girls Club in Lincoln Heights is one of the communities selected to get a new playground and during Design Day, it was revealed to the kids when they would be getting their new playground. Being there, I can tell you first hand, how excited the kids were. It was funny though, hearing the kids respond with how long a playground takes to be built- some said 30 years, some said 30 mins! In fact, it takes 6 hours because KaBOOM has it down to a science. But that’s not to say the playgrounds don’t get input from the kids themselves. Kristin kept telling the kids that they were the play experts, so KaBOOM needed their help to design their new playground.
And design they did! The kids drew photos of their dream playgrounds that included everything from a water park (oh – it was over 100 degrees that day- many of us were dreaming of water parks!) to slides and monkey bars.
But that was just part of the Design day! Soon after, parents filled the same classroom, where they were given a look at the kids designs but now- they gave their input on what they wanted their kids to get out of a playground, and what safety/age appropriate features did they feel a playground needed.
What I loved was KaBOOM’s approach was just talking to both the parents and kids about playing. Kids gave their input as to how they liked to play and parents related based on their memories of play. It was fun to see how many memories I shared with some of the parents, and how we all wanted our kids to create their own memories of play.
It was fun to see how excited everyone is to get this new playground. The parents were happy because their kids were getting a place to have fun, get some physical activity and make lasting friendships. The kids were excited cause they got to be part of the process and they were getting a new playground! I will be back for Build day, which is the day the playground gets built…and I cannot wait to see the community come together to give these kids a playground they deserve.