Cities across the country are struggling with fostering connections between citizens and city halls and public service providers. Incorporating Play Everywhere in civic, public spaces can help bridge these divides. These spaces are an easy and available opportunity for kids and families to feel some ownership and sense of belonging in civic institutions. In civic spaces, geographically and socioeconomically diverse families converge to gather, access services and facilities and get things done. Civic spaces are—or can be—the physical expressions of public values. Providing visible spaces for kids, families and play in civic spaces communicates that they are welcome, that they are valued and that they are an important part of the civic landscape.
These are the "low-hanging fruit" of playful civic spaces. Many libraries and public community/recreation centers already attract large numbers of kids and families each day to their facilities and the activities they sponsor. However, providing unique experiences that will attract greater numbers of kids can be challenging. While many libraries and community/recreation centers already do a great job of inspiring play and fostering kid-friendly environments, many fail to achieve their potential as playful, and play-full, community institutions.
Ideas for expanding play opportunities at libraries and community centers include:
Many civic buildings of all types already have usable outdoor spaces, ranging from formal governmental plazas to smaller courtyards, green spaces and seating areas. As described in other sections of the Playbook, many of these spaces offer great potential for active, meaningful play. Opportunities to take advantage of outdoor civic spaces can include:
From lobbies and waiting rooms to hallways and common spaces, many civic buildings have underutilized indoor spaces that can be strategically repurposed to inspire play and pass the time while parents and caregivers wait and take care of business. This can be done by: