When I first heard of adventure playgrounds I wondered why playworkers couldn’t be found in every town and community around the world. Such a great idea, I thought, would have an unstoppable momentum. In the years since, many people have asked me why the movement stalled in the US, why only a handful of adventure playgrounds were created or survived and why that early wave of interest crashed to shore so early.
There doesn’t seem to be one clear answer. There’s something in the fertility of bombsites, I think, for both wildflowers and play. There’s something in US fears of liability, risk and blame. But playwork is all about identifying and overcoming barriers to play, wherever they are found, and offers a set of remarkably flexible tools. Through the playworker development course, I’ve been learning from people applying playwork principles in schools, parks and community spaces around the world and it seems increasingly clear that good playwork is different every time. Like play itself, playwork is a process.
But the US is where I spent my own childhood, and when doing training workshops in this country I’ve been fascinated by the question of what a local playwork might look like – what profession might grow here as people make playwork ideals their own. That’s why I’m so excited about this upcoming Tour.
It’s a Pop-Up Adventure Play Road Trip! We’ll be going coast-to-coast-and-back-again, in support of children’s play. Each tour stop will include a workshop or training on playwork principles and approaches, as well as a free and public play session. We’ll be mapping and documenting these pop-up adventure playgrounds online, and sharing what we find about the state of play in the US. Hopefully, we’ll be contributing to the momentum of a new wave of interest in children’s play, linking advocates from around this huge and contradictory country around the ideals that we share.
This is a self-funded project, meaning that we are doing this without the support of foundation grants or corporate sponsorship. It’s grassrootsy as heck! We are still seeking more donations to get us on the road by helping cover our vehicle and gas/petrol. I know that budgets are tight at the moment, but if you can help and if you want to, here is the link. It’s worth looking at regardless, because Suzanna made the video and it’s just about the cutest thing you’ve seen in your whole life.