At the end of last week I started flicking through an amazing book - Caring Spaces, Learning Places - Children's Environments that Work by Jim Greenman. A section on adventure playgrounds caught my attention and I began doing a little Googling (how good is Google?!)
The following is an excerpt from www.adventureplaygrounds.hampshire.edu
C. Th. Sørensen, a Danish landscape architect, noticed that children
preferred to play everywhere but in the playgrounds that he built. In
1931, he imagined "A junk playground in which children could create and shape, dream and imagine a reality." Why not give children in the city the same chances for play as those in the country? His initial
ideas started the adventure playground movement.
The first adventure playground opened in Emdrup, Denmark in 1943, during World War II. In 1946, Lady Allen of Hurtwood visited Emdrup from England and was impressed with "junk playgrounds." She brought the idea to London. These "junk playgrounds" became known as "adventure playgrounds." From then on the movement grew to provide adventure playgrounds for children with disabilities and included the formation of the Handicapped Adventure Playground Association, currently known as Kidsactive. Adventure playgrounds spread throughout Europe, particularly to Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France and Germany.
Ahhh...just the thought of this sort of outdoor space for children makes my knees a little weak! So much creativity, freedom and RISK - yay!! But for all my googling I couldn't find one in Australia. I found a few in the US, however discovered that many others had closed or been demolished due to increasing litigation issues and concerns - how sad...
During my browsing I came across a great article from the US (which you can read here) the folllowing is a small excerpt:
When given age-appropriate challenges, children tend to take them very
seriously; in fact, the more obvious the risk is, the more cautiously a child will proceed. Adventure Playgrounds are a perfect case in point. While our paranoid and litigious society boasts only a handful, Europe has hundreds, offering kids the opportunity to play with fire, use handsaws and sail across 50-foot zip lines. Denise Brown, Manager of the Berkeley Adventure Playground in California (pictured right), told NPR in an interview:
What we like to say is that there are no hidden risks in the
playground. Even a young child walking through the playground gates can look around and tell that it's a different type of playground, and there are sticks and boards and nails and rocks and things that they need to watch out for.
In her experience, there are fewer injuries on Adventure Playgrounds than at standard U.S. playgrounds. At Kolle 37, an Adventure Playground in Berlin where kids can build their own three-story forts with wood and nails, two children have broken bones and a couple have stepped on nails over the course of five years.
I'd love to know what people think of adventure playgrounds... and I would love to hear if anyone knows of any in Australia - I want to go there! If all else fails, looks like a trip to Europe is in order - I would love to see how these playgrounds work...and have a play myself!
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