Growing up in the South Bronx, there were not many playgrounds around. Streets became de facto playgrounds. We would open the fire hydrants and blast the water until the cops came to close the hydrants. We would take a ball and hit it against the walls of empty lots. Handball was a favorite past-time. Our palms showed the wear and tear for years thereafter. There were times when children did get hit by passing cars. To this day, one girl still has hearing problems due to getting hit while playing tag in the middle of the street. No matter what kids want to play when they are young. And whether there is a playground around or not, they will find a way to each other and find a way to play. The sense of play is natural, and of course, needs to be encouraged. It is heartbreaking when kids do not have a playground outlet for to release their enormous levels of energy.
Now driving through the suburbs of present day, it is interesting to see how some playgrounds have morphed into full scale amusement parks with attached ponds, adventure paths and grilling areas. If I had seen such a place growing up, I would have thought I was dreaming.
There were a few playgrounds in the South Bronx growing up but it was not as if many of us felt very safe going to them. There is a movement now to have more playgrounds that are nicely manicured and that are safe. However, it seems that more and more we are turning to inside activities and places where we bury our heads blocking out the outside world. Can only hope that slowly we get kids back outside and exploring nature, play, and the environment in a safe way.