The critical, urgent need of children to play – especially in inner-city neighborhoods – is what guides our work. We aim to transform city parks into public spaces that provide at-risk children with everyday opportunities to engage in high quality, enriched play. Creating an inspired, welcoming, magical, high-quality play space can serve as a powerful public health intervention that can help to break the cycle of low-achievement, passivity, obesity, and alienation in our youngest, most vulnerable, and at-risk citizens: our children.
Pogo Park provides 5,000 children living in the Iron Triangle with the opportunity to engage in meaningful play. The concept of the need for “meaningful” play spaces is a direct result of groundbreaking neurological research from the 1990’s that revealed that children’s brains develop at a phenomenal rate, far faster than anyone ever imagined possible.
In fact, the neural pathways––the “architecture of the brain”––that govern a child’s entire cognitive, linguistic, social, physical, and creative development are “hard-wired” early in life, especially during a child’s first five years. In short, brains that are active and stimulated make permanent neurological connections that are critical to learning; inactive brains fail to make the necessary neurological connections for children to develop to learn, grow, thrive, and reach their potential.
Most importantly, the research revealed that play is the most effective and proven method to hard-wire a child’s brain for healthy development. Play is how children learn. Play is essential to the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being of children beginning in early childhood. (American Academy of Pediatrics) Play is so important, so critical, so essential to optimal child development that the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights passed Article 31 in their charter, citing a “child’s right to play” as a universal right of every child.