Schoolyards are children’s habitats – places they live, work and play daily, and from which they construct their knowledge of the world. It is well established that play is an essential tool for the social, emotional, cognitive and physical well-being of children, but did you know that it can also help the environment? Recent studies show that natural play yards not only contribute to the development of gross and fine motor skills, creativity, independence and overall health and wellness, but also a strong connection to nature and the environment.
In the book Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, child advocacy expert Richard Louv argues that,
“If children do not attach to the land, they will not reap the psychological and spiritual benefits they can glean from nature, nor will they feel a long term commitment to the environment, to the place.”
Regardless of race, economic class or culture, every child needs to play, and every child deserves to play outside in a natural environment. And that’s where we get involved! As architects, we are deeply connected to sustainable practices and design. But who will carry this torch in the future? How can we create spaces for children that foster respect, care and sheer wonder for the environment?
For projects such as SPARK, Viet Aid Child Care Center and St. Polycarps Village, we used plants, soil, sand and water to create affordable, low-maintenance, eco-friendly alternatives to plastic playgrounds. At Studio G we believe that building engaging, safe and fun natural play yards will encourage and support future generations to become committed stewards of the environment.