By Maria Levine Garcia, Youth Education and Enrichment Manager
Backside Learning Center youth were some of the first children to put the “play” in Playcosystem! Since that first sandy-footed, hill-scrambling, tree-climbing day, we have been lucky to return to Playcosystem several times (thanks to the generosity of Bernheim who provided bus transportation as well as fantastic weeklong summer programming!) I am witnessing as the youth develop a sense of ownership of the play space, squealing with glee as the bus pulls up, scarfing down their lunches so they can return to Playcosystem and have maximum time for play, and, importantly: inquiring about the possibility of bringing their parents. They feel they belong, they want to return, and they want to share the experience with their families.
Most recently, the kids created Castle Bernheim, which was located in the shade of a cypress and housed a “bakery.” I was pleased to gain admission by presenting a few unripe persimmons and the enthusiasm with which they showed off the Castle was almost tangible.
Playcosystem is a delight and a necessity as many underserved Louisville kids, including our backside kids, have little or no easy access to safe, fun natural play spaces, which should absolutely be the right and delight of all young people. The privilege of watching this mixed-age group of kids relish the freedom, space, and joy that comes from accessing this unstructured, open-ended, imagination-stimulating play space is incredible. It is a joy to see children happily covering themselves in sand, timing one another to complete an agility course of their own creation, and one little gal even proclaimed herself “Queen of the Mountain,” a testament to the empowerment that such a play opportunity can bring.