Regular readers will know that I’ve co-founded a non-profit project in the US called Pop-Up Adventure Play. Our work is to bring rich and open-ended play opportunities to children all over the country, and we do this through direct training, fostering partnerships between organizations, and hosting events. These events, called Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds, are incredible opportunities for large groups to come together with a mix of raw, recycled materials and supportive Playworkers.
They are places where communities can play, and where people of all ages can celebrate the skills and the magic of a free childhood.
We have been working hard for the past year to get this project going, and we’ve had some amazing successes. Delivering playwork sessions in a country without an established playwork field means a lot of explaining – but it’s been clear from the conversations we’ve had that many Americans need this desperately. People here, as in so many places, have been feeling the absence of play in their lives and in their children’s lives and wondering what they could possibly do about it.
That’s where we can help, by providing information and encouragement – by helping people see that children don’t need expensive equipment or complex strategies to play. We’ve known for a long time how empowering play is for children, but this project is teaching me how empowering playwork can be for parents, families and everyone else who cares about children. Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds are a low-cost, inclusive and immediately powerful way to start helping people to bring play more deeply into their communities, their homes, and their lives.
We’ve been very busy, helping to create Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds as part of the Ultimate Block Party, the New Museum’s Festival of Ideas for the New City, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum’s Earth Week Celebrations, and many more to reach thousands of children and family members in a remarkably short time. We even held our own Pop-Up PLAY Day, in partnership with PLAY Greenpoint, in McCarren Park. We’ve inspired and supported independently organized Pop-Ups in Boston, Yonkers, Anchorage, and Costa Rica and in so doing are helping to spread the word about children’s right to play, and practical ways that adults can help.
Now, we’re embarking on our greatest challenge yet.
Our Governors Island Pop-Up Adventure Playground Residency is eighteen – yes, that’s EIGHTEEN – consecutive weekends of Pop-Ups. This weekend, we’ll be doing two sessions there as part of the FIGMENT NYC Sculpture Garden, and two more with FIGMENT Boston on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Through these partnerships, we hope to reach hundreds of thousands of children and families, helping to bring the core concepts and skills of playwork to a massive audience.
We couldn’t have done it without the incredible legacy and support we’ve received from friends, family and colleagues internationally. Now we need your help to accomplish all that we’ve got planned.
We started an IndieGoGo campaign to fill in funding gaps. We keep our costs low and source in-kind donations wherever possible, but some things are difficult to get donated – such as the plane ticket and travel grant for our Senior Playworker. Her name is Suzanna Law, and she’s a student with Fraser Brown at Leeds Metropolitan University. We needed to buy waterproof storage boxes, and an early kit of the materials that get used up fast – things like bamboo poles, rope, and endless rolls of tape. We want to print materials for interested parents and carers to take home, so that they can have tangible reminders of the Playwork Principles and other essential information. We want to develop an online forum where people can make connections with others in their area, swap ideas or share concerns so that the experiences of this summer can make long-term changes in children’s lives.
We have one week left to raise $7000 to meet the cost of this busy summer programming.