The Benefits of Installing a Community Playground
The Benefits of Installing a Community Playground
Most kids think of playtime as a fun time to laugh, jump, swing, slide, and be with their friends. But it’s actually so much more. Play is one of the most indispensable gifts we can give kids of any age, and you can’t overlook the importance of having an accessible neighborhood playground. Playtime gives kids a chance to express themselves, explore their interests, improve their cognitive and motor skills, and so much more.
But children aren’t the only ones who benefit from community playgrounds — whole families, including adults, can also enjoy the advantages of these shared play areas. In fact, entire communities can improve from the presence of a public park.
The Benefits of Having a Community Playground
We believe playgrounds are an essential part of any neighborhood — not just for the kids who use them, but for every member of the community. While children are having fun on the playground, they’re actually growing and developing in ways they could never imagine. Playtime is an essential tool for nearly every aspect of child development, and playgrounds provide a host of fantastic developmental benefits for kids of all ages.
A playground is a priceless investment in the developmental well-being of your community’s children. A community playground also provides a place where families can spend time together, forging relationships that will last for years. Neighbors can come together on the playground, getting to know each other better and forming a safer, more engaged, and thriving community.
Let’s look at 10 distinct benefits that individuals, families, and communities can enjoy when a public play area is available near them.
1. Strengthens Social Skills
Community playgrounds are the perfect spot for social play. Independent play is beneficial to kids, but there are some benefits of play that can only come through social play — that is, play that involves interactions between at least two people. This type of play can be a key way for children to develop important social skills. As children connect with each other, they figure out firsthand how to have positive interactions with others. This includes, for example, learning to:
- Communicate and listen
- Resolve conflicts and make compromises
- Recognize and respect others’ emotions
- Be part of a team
- Share and take turns
- Include others in games and activities
Many of these lessons come naturally as children interact on the playground. In some cases, parents or caregivers can help children learn social skills by mediating disagreements. They may also bring their child aside to explain the importance of concepts like waiting your turn or making sure others don’t feel excluded. Especially for children who don’t have siblings or don’t get to spend much time with their peers, the playground provides plenty of opportunities for socialization and meaningful lessons on social skills.
2. Offers an Outlet for Emotions
In addition to social benefits, there are also emotional benefits children can enjoy when they have neighborhood playgrounds they can use regularly. Children can experience an intense range of emotions, and they’re still learning to regulate these emotions. Active play provides an effective outlet for helping children process their emotions and improve their mental health.
Studies have revealed a link between active play and lower levels of negative emotions like stress and anxiety. Research has also shown that active play can help reduce behavioral problems in young children. Playing on the playground provides an outlet for pent-up energy and stress, helping kids feel a bit lighter when they leave. Adults may experience a similar sensation when they exercise to “blow off some steam” or refocus their brains.
Physical activity alone can be beneficial for emotional well-being, but the thoughts and emotions children experience on the playground are beneficial, as well. For example, in using a new piece of equipment for the first time, a child may be overcoming a fear that’s holding them back and gain a newfound sense of pride in themselves. They can also process emotions through imaginary play. Overall, time spent on the playground can allow kids to enjoy a more carefree childhood and help them process their emotions in a healthy way.
3. Encourages Physical Activity
Playgrounds also encourage kids to be more physically active. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, preschool children should be active throughout the day, and school-aged children should get at least an hour of physical activity every day. Unfortunately, many children today spend long hours doing sedentary activities like playing video games and fail to reach this 60-minute goal for physical activity.
Access to community playgrounds allows kids a chance to become more active, encouraging them to exercise. Unlike going to a gym, this physical activity simply feels like fun and games rather than a chore. Spending plenty of time on the playground throughout childhood can set the foundation for an active lifestyle as children become older.
Helping kids get much-needed physical activity can help combat the issue of childhood obesity, which currently affects 19.3% of children and adolescents ages 2 through 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Excess weight can lead to a variety of health issues. It can also negatively impact children’s self-esteem and cause them to worry about social pressure and rejection.
Many kids don’t have a place they can go to get up and move around, making it hard to lose excess weight and maintain their health. Access to a playground can solve this problem.
Staying active isn’t just about maintaining a healthy weight, either. Playground play offers children a variety of physical health benefits. All the activities on the playground can help children build different muscle groups and develop their gross motor skills. For example, playing on the monkey bars can help kids build upper body strength, and swinging can help them develop their sense of coordination and engage several muscle groups in the arms, legs, and core.
4. Increases Confidence and Self-Esteem
No matter how proud parents may be of their children or how loved a child is, their sense of self-worth and confidence is crucial to their overall mental health and well-being. A child must like who they are and feel proud of themselves. This sense can come in part from praise and encouragement from parents and teachers, but children also tend to develop self-esteem as they exercise some independence and experience success on their own.
The playground can be a safe and supportive place for this independence and personal success to flourish. Each new experience, positive interaction with a peer, game won, and fear conquered can all add to a child’s positive self-image, helping them feel capable and secure in their identity. A child who makes it across the monkey bars for the first time can feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment. A child who invents a game other children enjoy will admire their own creativity.
Social play on playgrounds can be especially valuable for children in building their self-esteem. As kids meet others in their community and make friends, they gain a sense of belonging and inclusion. Kids can also enjoy a boost to their own self-image when they welcome and include others. Accessible playgrounds can be especially helpful for making all children feel included.
5. Boosts Cognitive Development
There are also cognitive benefits of community playgrounds for children. Unstructured play on the playground gives kids opportunities to develop their capacity for creativity, decision-making abilities, and problem-solving skills. Especially at young ages, play can be a crucial way children develop these cognitive abilities.
Spending time playing on a school playground or at a public park can also help children perform better academically. Research shows what most parents and teachers could tell you firsthand — children focus better and are more productive when they get breaks for unstructured play. Regular breaks are necessary to help even adults absorb information and maintain focus, so it makes sense that it’s a must for kids.
One study involving third, fourth, and fifth graders tested the children before and after recess to determine sustained attention and creativity. The results indicated a significant increase in the children’s ability to focus and be creative after time on the playground. While some may see recess as a distraction from academics, research shows it is actually an excellent investment of time that helps kids do better in the classroom. Plus, kids can learn important life lessons on the playground as they play.
6. Promotes Creativity
We’ve already mentioned the role playgrounds have in boosting creativity, but this is an important benefit worthy of some more attention. When a person is creative, they can come up with original ideas. This is more than just an artistic quality — it’s a life skill that we draw on continuously in adulthood. Children are naturally imaginative, and we should encourage them to lean into that quality to become even more creative.
The playground provides the perfect place for children to exercise their creativity. One way they can do this is through imaginative play, also known as pretend play, where kids act out stories by themselves or with others. Some playground equipment lends itself well to pretend play. This equipment provides sets and props to help kids bring all sorts of creative ideas to life. They may pretend they’re exploring a jungle or ocean, or they may play some form of “house” where they pretend to be grown-ups.
Even typical playground equipment, like slides and swing sets, can help kids use their imaginations. While they’re swinging, they may imagine that they’re a superhero who can fly. Creativity is a healthy quality for us all, and it’s an essential part of childhood.
7. Builds Community Ties
Despite how interconnected we are in virtual spaces, it can be difficult to achieve the sort of community connections we wish we had with our neighbors. Today, just 31% of adults say they know all or most of their neighbors. That percentage is even lower for urban residents at just 24%. City playgrounds can help bring members of a community together.
A playground encourages members of the neighborhood to come together before installation even begins. Community members can work together to set goals, vote on a custom design that will meet the neighborhood’s needs, spark excitement in the project through fundraisers, and potentially even assemble the playground as a community. From the first step in the process, members are engaged and dedicated to providing the best playground solution.
Getting involved in the design, assembly, and maintenance processes fosters a sense of belonging within neighborhoods and gives people a chance to get to know neighbors they may have never talked to before. People feel like they’re wanted and accepted as they rally together around the project, encouraging them to continue their involvement in the community long after the playground is installed.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how parks impact communities, but it’s clear they have a positive effect. Many parents of young children find it hard to make time to relax or go out and meet other families, leaving a deep need for mental and social fulfillment. Adults can enjoy the benefits of parks just as much as kids as they relax outdoors and build fulfilling adult friendships with other parents and caregivers.
8. Expands Neighborhood Foot Traffic
As people come together at the playground, they also increase neighborhood foot traffic. When there is a park within walking distance of home, families are likely to enjoy a stroll in the fresh air to get to the park. The more people are out and about, especially on foot, the more engaged a community can start to feel.
A town with few pedestrians outside doesn’t feel lively, and businesses can suffer. In contrast, a town with lots of foot traffic feels vibrant, and businesses can thrive in this environment. Maybe the walk back from the park includes a stop at a locally owned ice cream parlor, for example. Community members may even discover businesses and places in your community they never noticed before by walking.
No matter your community’s economic status, nearly any area can be improved by adding a well-maintained playground and recreational area that increases foot traffic throughout the neighborhood.
9. Raises Property Values
It’s easy to see why neighborhood playground equipment could be a draw for homebuyers. Because many parents of young children look to move to an area where their kids can safely explore their surroundings, playgrounds offer the perfect incentive for these families to move to the community. In fact, nearby playgrounds are one of the top amenities parents look for when finding a new home.
A public park can be especially appealing to apartment renters who may not have a yard of their own where children can enjoy active play. If the apartment complex or the community at large has a playground families can easily access, this can be a major perk.
Even businesses who want to relocate or expand rank parks as one of the top nearby amenities they look for since families who live nearby are more likely to engage in social activities. Overall, community parks can be signs of a healthy, happy community where families can thrive.
10. Offers a Safe Gathering Location
Finally, neighborhood playgrounds can create safe spaces for families to gather. Crime rates tend to go up along with population density, so while urban communities may have an easier time engaging with each other, they may also worry more about safety issues. Fortunately, public parks can be safe spaces where families can enjoy time together and with other community members.
Research shows that the safety of parks goes up with the number of park visitors involved in positive activities. In other words, an appealing park that attracts lots of families and kids can be an exceptionally safe place where negative behaviors are naturally deterred.
How to Get a Park Built in Your Neighborhood
Considering all the benefits of a park, you may feel disheartened if your community currently lacks a public playground. If you want your children and your whole community to enjoy all the benefits we discussed above, take action to make a community playground a reality in your neighborhood. Take advantage of public forums, such as town hall meetings or homeowner’s association (HOA) board meetings, to discuss the possibility of installing a public playground with other community members so you can get the ball rolling.
The exact process for gaining approval and funding for such a project can differ from community to community, but the key is to first generate interest among the various stakeholders. Educate others in the community on the benefits of community playground equipment and green spaces everyone can share. When the neighborhood or city gets motivated to bring these benefits to their own community, they’ll find a way to make it happen.
Little Tikes Commercial can help walk you through the logistics of this project. Make sure you choose quality commercial playground equipment from a brand you can trust for your new playground. At Little Tikes Commercial, we design and manufacture our equipment to fully capitalize on the potential benefits playgrounds can offer. And our equipment is made to last, so with proper care, you can continue to reap these benefits long-term.
Little Tikes Commercial Can Help Bring Play to Your Community
A playground is more than just a place to play — it’s a place for families to bond, a hub for communities to gather, and a fantastic tool in child development. At Little Tikes Commercial, we believe in the immense power of the playground. We offer only the highest quality playground equipment to benefit your neighborhood for years to come.
We’ve helped many communities just like yours build the playground of their dreams through design, financing, planning, and other services that ensure you get the support you need. Contact us today to learn more about why so many neighborhoods trust us as their playground manufacturer. Or, request a quote to start the next step in your community’s journey toward turning your playground vision into a reality.