Adventure playground

« Back to Glossary Index

**History of Adventure Playgrounds**:
– Harry Shier defined adventure playgrounds as areas for children to play freely and shape the environment.
– The first planned adventure playground opened in Emdrup, Denmark, in 1943.
– The term ‘junk playground’ was derived from the Danish term ‘skrammellegeplads.’
Adventure playgrounds emphasize creativity, community involvement, and a free society in miniature.
– Carl Theodor Sørensen, a Danish landscape architect, pioneered the concept of adventure playgrounds.
– Marjory Allen and Marie Paneth played significant roles in introducing and developing adventure playgrounds in the UK.
Adventure playgrounds were a response to societal changes, like the criminalization of mischievousness during the Nazi occupation in Denmark.

**Global Presence of Adventure Playgrounds**:
– There are around 1,000 adventure playgrounds in Europe, with a significant number in England, Denmark, France, Germany, and Switzerland.
– Japan, Canada, and the U.S. also feature notable adventure playgrounds.
Adventure playgrounds cater to diverse communities and play preferences in different countries.
– Various organizations and parks in the U.S. offer adventure playground experiences.

**Benefits of Adventure Playgrounds**:
Adventure playgrounds provide a space for unstructured play, encouraging creativity, imagination, and physical activity.
– Children can take risks in a controlled environment, fostering social interactions, teamwork, cognitive development, problem-solving skills, emotional well-being, resilience, independence, and healthy brain development.

**Community Impact and Importance of Play**:
Adventure playgrounds act as community hubs, promoting social inclusion, diversity, and intergenerational interactions.
– They contribute to neighborhood cohesion and provide safe spaces for children to play.
– Play Wales, a national charity, advocates for the importance of play, collaborates with communities to create play opportunities, and promotes the right to play for all children.

**Playgrounds, Safety, and Play Principles**:
– Balancing safety with risk is crucial for children’s development.
– Designing playgrounds that cater to different ages and abilities is essential.
– Encouraging adult supervision without overprotection is necessary.
– Play is a process that is freely chosen, personally directed, and intrinsically motivated, allowing children to determine and control the content and intent of their play.

An adventure playground is a specific type of playground for children. Adventure playgrounds can take many forms, ranging from "natural playgrounds" to "junk playgrounds", and are typically defined by an ethos of unrestricted play, the presence of playworkers (or "wardens"), and the absence of adult-manufactured or rigid play-structures. Adventure playgrounds are frequently defined in contrast to playing fields, contemporary-design playgrounds made by adult architects, and traditional-equipment play areas containing adult-made rigid play-structures like swings, slides, seesaws, and climbing bars.

A small adventure park in Lappeenranta, Finland


« Back to Glossary Index