Child Development

The Importance of Play in Healthy Development

Ladybug Hunt

“Play is essential to the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being of children beginning in early childhood,” declared the American Academy of Pediatrics in a landmark statement in 2012. “It is a natural tool for children to develop resiliency as they learn to cooperate, overcome challenges, and negotiate with others. Play also allows children to be creative. It provides 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.”

The Academy took pains to emphasize the special dangers of play deprivation for children living in poverty. “Children who live in poverty often face socioeconomic obstacles that impede their rights to have playtime, thus affecting their healthy social-emotional development. …It is essential that parents, educators, and pediatricians recognize the importance of lifelong benefits that children gain from play…. Even before the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights cited play as a right of every child, philosophers and psychologists, such as Plato, Piaget, and Friedrich Froebel, recognized the importance of play in healthy child development.”

Pogo Park creates outdoor spaces that meet the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual needs of children in underserved communities. We aim to break the cycles of poverty, violence, and ill health in such neighborhoods. When children are doing well, their families benefit. By meeting the needs of children, we strive to improve the health and welfare of the entire community.

Studies have shown that all children are born with the innate ability to learn. What they experience in the first few years of life strongly influences later success at school and in their lives. Building rich outdoor environments for play is a powerful public health intervention to combat obesity, violence, depression, and alienation in our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

Click here for a summary of research on children’s play and development.

Pogo Park’s Place in a Child’s Day

sandplayChildren learn different things in different places at different times. Most of a child’s day is spent either at home or at school. But what about the rest of their day? Where do they go and what do they do? Many children in high-needs neighborhoods do not have access to fee-based preschools, after-school programs or weekend activities. Pogo Park revitalizes neighborhood parks to make them affordable, safe, fun places for kids and their families to play, explore, learn, and grow.