August 27, 2009

Spruce-up: Updating a playspace for the entire community

PaintingMany communities are lucky enough to have basic playgrounds in place, but they often lack elements that attract older children or other members of the community. Often, you will see tot lots or play structures designed with only the youngest kids in mind, or lack of communal areas that would foster communication and social engagement – both vital to making any area a true community.

At its best, a playspace should be a gathering place for the entire community and offer areas and activities that are engaging for multiple generations and areas of interest. A true community playspace should entice folks to stop by throughout the day and evening (prior to closing time), and be a space where people spend extended periods of time engaged in play and social interaction - not simply a quick stop to get the kids out of the house for a few minutes.

Do you have such a playground in your area – one that could use a little polishing to make it attractive to the entire community? If so, consider tacking a playground “spruce-up” project – layering in some additional activities and areas that will make your playspace a place of pride and the spot to gather for the entire community!

Another benefit to working on a project for multiple generations and multiple uses is that it is attractive to a variety of funders. By broadening your project scope, you can also broaden your fundraising net to include foundations and groups interested in areas like public health, environmental stewardship, senior citizens, public safety and neighborhood revitalization, and cultural outreach, in addition to traditional children and youth development interest areas.

Take a look at an exiting playspace in your area. Why not add…

  • An asphalt game area for Hopscotch, Four Square, and more
  • A community or children’s garden
  • Benches and conversation pits for parents/grandparents, book clubs, senior citizens social groups, and gardening clubs to meet
  • Tables with checker & chessboard tops
  • A bulletin board for people to announce upcoming special events, clean-up days, etc.
  • A basketball court (can be used for other old-school playground games, too!)
  • A shade structure to give folks a place to cool off

Note: We've got step-by-step directions for these projects and more!


There are hundreds of ideas you could add to your neighborhood playspace to get the whole community outside and playing! KaBOOM! can help with our Playspace Planner. We have ideas, tip sheets, and tons of resources to walk you through the “spruce-up” process step-by-step. When you start a project, you will create a free website to help you, your friends and neighbors keep your project on track and moving toward a creating a space that will meet the needs of your entire community.

So, start dreaming and get planning - there is FUN to be had! Start your “spruce-up” project today!

Bethe Almeras writes The Grass Stain Guru, a blog about restoring childhood, and saving ourselves in the process. She is the DIY Online Community/Communications Manager for KaBOOM!.