Playgrounds for senior citizens have already become a hit across Europe and Asia, inviting seniors to get outside and into the sun. Rather than monkey bars and slides, the parks are packed with low impact exercise equipment. Outdoor elliptical machines, exercise bikes and stationary equipment for stretching and balance invite senior citizens to work out at their own pace.
For the United States, KaBOOM! and Humana have planned a system of playgrounds not just for senior citizens, but for multi-generations to enjoy all together. Many existing playgrounds cater to children, with only benches or walking paths for adults. Multi-generational playgrounds include equipment for people of all ages, including traditional playground slides, swings and monkey bars, as well as exercise equipment for adults. Aside from encouraging exercise, the playgrounds, geared toward kids and adults, will bring varying ages together for socialising, exercise, and fun.
Thus far, 53 multi-generational playgrounds have popped up across the US, delighting 135,471 kids and 61,500 seniors. Through the love of play and exercise, the children and seniors mix together forming social bonds that beat stress, anxiety and loneliness.
In an excerpt from their website, KaBOOM! emphasises the importance of play in relieving stress or trauma in children, and the benefits of play for both children and adults.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has repeatedly stated that play provides a critical time for parents to be fully engaged with their children, to bond with their children, and to see the world from the perspective of their child. Thus, play is a part of the solution to creating the supportive, responsive relationships with caring adults that research has shown can help prevent the detrimental effects of toxic stress response.
We also know that play is a great opportunity to develop resiliency and grit in children, as they fall and pick themselves back up. It is their first opportunity to learn how to confront a challenge and overcome it in a safe environment.
By understanding and acting upon the societal importance of play, we can prepare our children for a lifetime of success by building healthy minds and bodies, and in turn, healthy communities.