The first meetings to begin exploring ideas for a new nature playground are always exciting and full of possibility. This week La Casita began exploring a rework of their existing play area thanks to funding Metro United Way (MUW) received via ARPA funds from Louisville Metro Government. The team that MUW pulled together to help them with this project includes the Children at Play Network and the great minds at Community Coordinated Child Care (4C). This week the design team toured the site and then sat down with the La Casita team to begin fleshing out the vision for the project. We explored who the playground might serve, hopes for programming, the challenges of the site, how to involve the children and families that rely on La Casita, and the nuts and bolts of moving together in collaboration.
Some of the most fun things about designing a rework of an existing play area are the challenges. In that respect it’s a bit like free play in general. When you watch children on a playground it’s the challenges they encounter that they seem to have the most fun with. Some of the challenges with this project include:
- The urban environment complete with alleys, challenging drainage, tight spacing
- The existing play area is built on top of an old asphalt parking pad
- The existing play area is divided down the middle with a pathway that holds water after a rain
- The broad range of users and programmatic functions the playground will eventually address
Each of these challenges also provides opportunities to creatively meet them head on while the team comes up with elegant solutions that will match this project to it’s environment. It’s a very different exercise than leafing through a playground equipment catalogue and picking out a structure that meets your budget. The Children at Play Network centers our work around seven belief statements. Ultimately, we hope that all seven of them are brought forward with every project. After just one meeting it’s apparent that these three are already a part of the teams thinking:
Healthy play environments are part of the foundation of healthy communities
Play work is a revolutionary practice that directly confronts systemic problems
Play work is collaborative
Here are some before photos of the playground site the team will be working on over the next months and years. We will keep you posted as this project moves forward. Stay tuned and consider supporting the great work that La Casita accomplishes in our community.