DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative
Our idea is to bring animal tracks to the sidewalks around the Kenilworth Courts Community Center, transforming this community hub into a lively, interactive "PLAYce."" The center is located in Kenilworth-Parkside, an isolated, low-income neighborhood with few safe spaces to play. DCPNI will partner with the Smithsonian Institution to create "play along the way" sets of footprints designed to let kids be active, curious, and creative on their way to and from the center. The tracks will also encourage parents and other adults who gather to talk on the benches around the center to get up and join in the activities with the children and take photos or videos to be included in an Animal Tracks social media campaign.
One set of tracks will come from the direction of the nearby Anacostia Watershed and its Aquatic Gardens representing an animal indigenous to the neighborhood such as a fox or rabbit so kids can get to know the animals that live around them every day. The other set will represent an exotic animal such as an elephant, with a reminder to join a DCPNI family excursion to the National Zoo to see the real thing. Bright signs will invite children and families to stomp like an elephant or hop like a bunny. Other signs will encourage them to mimic the animal sounds coming from speakers disguised as rocks.
We will install two bright, engaging displays that will give kids new and inventive opportunities for play with one another and their families, and to extend this play to home, school and museums. The boards will be large and rich with information about what the featured animals look, feel and sound like. Kids can actually touch the animals' skin. Our interactive boards will include questions and facts about the animals to inspire wonder and creativity in play. For instance, "Foxes like to make their dens among the trees, or near a wetland. If you were a fox living nearby, where would you find your home?" We anticipate this will challenge kids and encourage dramatic play actively exploring their environment and their imagination.
To build excitement for this new "PLAYce" in Kenilworth-Parkside, we will have a Community Day to launch the installation. Using our well-oiled community engagement apparatus, DCPNI will invite families to attend an afternoon of activities, tasty food, and good-old-fashioned play. A social media campaign will help capture these moments and share our vision for "play everywhere" with the rest of Washington and beyond.
- Anna Powell