This post is sponsored by Let’s Play but all opinions are mine. Thank you for supporting the brands and initiatives that support San Antonio Mom Blogs!
One of the most liberating things about being a kid is the gift of play. Not only does play stimulate creativity, but it also encourages physical activity and fosters the important development of social skills, leading kids to grow into happy, healthy adults.
For children who have no access to safe and fun outdoor play areas, childhood obesity rates rise 29%. While kids who live within half a mile of a park or playground are five times more likely to be at a healthy weight.
I recently joined Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s Let’s Play initiative as a Play Ambassador for 2016. 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, DPS partners with the nonprofit organizations KaBOOM! to build playgrounds in underserved communities around the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, and with Good Sports to provide grants for sports equipment. DPS launched Let’s Play back in 2011 and by 2017, the Let’s Play initiative will provide 10 million kids with more opportunities to play, including children right here in San Antonio.
Dr Pepper Snapple Group and KaBOOM! joined Prospera Housing Community Services last month to meet with members of a local San Antonio community on West Avenue for Design Day, the first step in bringing a brand-new playground to the community. The afternoon-long planning session included a Site Walk, a Children’s Design Session, and an Adults’ Workshop, all with one goal in mind: to design a brand-new, modern, and safe playground to replace the one that’s served the kids here for the last 16 years.
Katie Applebaum, project manager with KaBOOM!, took local residents on a site walk of the current playground. The group took photos and measurements, noted potential obstacles with the site, discussed what features and improvements might be made, and began planning for Build Day (which takes place this June).
And then, the exciting part of the day began: the children of the community gathered together to draw and design the playground of their dreams.
Katie, who told the kids she, “has the best job in the world, traveling around the country, building playgrounds for a living,” explained that, “What you draw today, you’ll see reflected in the playground we’ll build!”
The children, some of whom are refugees who’ve relocated with their families to San Antonio via Catholic Charities, lit up, voicing their excitement about having a hands-on role in the project. Then, they did what kids do best: they let their imaginations run wild.
When the Children’s Meeting ended, the kids enjoyed dinner while their parents began the Adults’ Workshop. Parents and Prospera staff reviewed the children’s drawings to discover what the kids really wanted to see in their new playground. With Katie’s guidance, the adults put together an order for the individual playground pieces that matched the children’s desires, including a basketball hoop feature that many of the kids depicted in their designs.
Here is the final playground design, a culmination of suggestions and ideas created by the kids and agreed upon by the adults:
In June, when Build Day arrives, the new playground equipment will be delivered to the site. A group of 200 volunteers, comprised of people from local businesses, universities/colleges, Prospera, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, and West Avenue Apartment and nearby community residents, will work together to make the children’s dreams a reality.
The kids will attend and help at Build Day too but those under 16 won’t handle power tools or building equipment. Instead, they’ll put their creative skills to work, drawing Thank You banners for the playground’s sponsors, as well as making signs to be placed around the worksite that day.
Stay tuned to San Antonio Mom Blogs for Build Day coverage and the big reveal of San Antonio’s newest and coolest playground, designed by kids, for kids this June!
Be sure to check out Letsplay.com for more inspiration for play and updates on other projects like this happening across the country.
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