All In For Play!
This is the third in a six-post series. Here are links to part one and part two.
It’s been said that it takes a whole village to raise our children. It also takes a village to raise a playground! We have established how important it is to promote play in our communities and discussed a process to determine your needs, budget, and location of your playground. Now it’s time to rally support in order to make this project a success.
Share "The Why"
You will need to help your neighbors understand what a valuable resource this playground will be to the community. In a previous post, we’ve talked about how play increases a child’s self-esteem and develops social and cognitive skills important for their future adult interactions. Use this fact when you tell others why installing playground equipment is worth the time and effort that they will need to contribute in order to make it a reality. For more scientific support of the importance of play, request a free copy of “Words on Play: A Treatise on its Value,” which has insights from scholars who specialize in brain development, inclusion, nature, and more.
A key to successfully getting the ball rolling on your project includes listing key influencers that you personally know who can help you promote it and generate interest with the general public. Identify who should be involved, what skills they bring to the table, and how they will help with the planning process. (Sidenote idea: Wouldn’t it be handy if there was a Tinder app for finding your perfect community partner?!)
Here are some questions you should consider when determining who these stakeholders should be:
- Who will be impacted or affected by a new playground project?
- Whose support or involvement do you need to make your playground a success?
- Are there key individuals who must be “won over”?
- What are the interests, motivations, and perspectives of each individual?
- Are the individuals or groups organized? Do they speak with one voice?
- What can they bring to (or take away from) the project?
- How will the project leaders contact and involve stakeholders?
- Is there a role for local media to announce and publicize your new playground?
The first thought many people have is to engage individuals like local politicians and school officials. But these are not the only people you could ask to get involved. Reach out to local businesses and non-profit organizations. By partnering with like-minded organizations such as schools, hospitals, parks, and recreation centers, you may be able to help your project move forward a little faster. They might also offer opportunities to expand the effort and recruit new resources.
Engage the Community
Once you’ve made a list of these leaders you want to help lead the cause, then hold a larger public meeting to inform everyone about the necessary steps to put this plan into motion. Schedule multiple meetings so influential community members can attend and voice their support for the project. It’s important to realize that everyone wants to make a difference, but may not know how. You have an opportunity to show them that contributing to this project is an essential step in helping their neighborhood grow and provide a place for their kids to develop socially and physically. Work with individuals to find ways that they can help based on their interest and skill level.
A good way to show the community how prepared you are and how much thought you’ve put into the playground is to anticipate some questions and prepare answers in advance.
Here are some questions you may encounter:
- Why does our community need this?
- Is there a better way to spend the money?
- How will the playground benefit me, my child, my needs, and our community?
- Will the playground address a specific problem in the neighborhood? And how?
- What are the long-term effects the project will have on the community? (i.e., attractive to families, promote health and fitness, make the area more livable, etc.)
- How high can you swing? (okay, kidding about that one, but if you can swing high to the sky that has to be a definite bonus!)
Don't Go it Alone
Building a playground is no small feat. But remember what we said in our last post, members of your community can be powerful assets in moving the project forward. It’s important to engage your community and help them see how everyone’s combined effort can make a difference in getting your playground built. Plus, you’ll want as many hands on deck as possible so be sure to tap into everyone’s individual strengths and enlist their help!
Look for Steps 4-6 of Playground Planning 101 in future blog posts. Can't wait that long? Request a copy of Blueprint for Play and get all the details now! Or contact us and let us help you tell your playground story!