Oh, it is on, y’all. The awesome folks at KaBOOM! emailed last week asking if I’d share about their 2012 Playground Challenge. Now I love the amazing work that KaBOOM! does building much needed play spaces for kids, and I think this competition is right up the alley of all of our Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies families….but the reason I said yes is because if there is one thing the Original Pigtail Pal and ol’ Benny Boy know how to do, it is tear up a playground. With KaBOOM! choosing the top three point earners in the Playground Challenge to win a week-long trip for two to Washington DC, this is the most fun you’ll have this summer working at play.
Did I mention my family lives in a city with the nickname “Wisconsin’s Park Place”? Yeah that’s right, we’ve got 64 parks here. I just might have the kids start sleeping with their sneakers on. Go grab your sunscreen, because you’ve got some competition!
Parents should play too!
As the national nonprofit KaBOOM! kicks off its 2012 Summer Playground Challenge — which challenges families to explore as many playgrounds as you can this summer and offers prizes for your playground visits — past Challenge participant Liza Sullivan explains why having three boys home for the summer motivated her to get outside.
The summer of 2010 was a summer I will always remember—but not because of an exotic vacation or cross-country road trip or adventure-filled summer camp. Instead, I stayed right at home and explored local playgrounds with my twins. We were one of six families to participate in the first-ever KaBOOM! Summer Playground Challenge.
When the Challenge ended, I observed a marked change in my children – they appeared healthier, happier, stronger, and more self-confident. While everyone knows that outdoor play is beneficial for kids, what I didn’t expect was how transformative the Challenge proved for mom as well!
Here are five reasons why parents should join the 2012 Playground Challenge:
- Regular outdoor play is good for the soul. Activities like swinging, building sandcastles, rolling down grassy hills, and running through a fountain on hot summer days help you feel like a kid again. You will also have incentive to escape from computers, piles of laundry, and other distractions.
- It’s easier to get your kids to bed. Each day will provide your children with opportunities to be physically active as they increase their strength, coordination, and endurance. As a result, they won’t be as squirmy at home and will rarely have trouble falling asleep at night!
- Play opens doors to teachable moments. Rather than constantly playing the role of disciplinarian, you become a support to your child’s exploration, discovery, and learning. As you explore playgrounds and nature areas, your children will undoubtedly ask you endless questions, and each day will be filled with teachable moments.
- You meet new people in your neighborhood. As you explore, you will inevitably strike up conversations with other parents, contributing to a sense of community and connectedness. This can be particularly meaningful for stay-at-home parents – a job that is sometimes very isolating.
- Your family can experience new places right at home. Many participants, myself included, found that until they took on the Challenge, they were unaware of the surprising number of parks, playgrounds, and nature preserves in or near their community. They discovered hidden gems and explored nearby neighborhoods they had never had reason to visit before.
As a gift to yourself and your children this summer, allow for plenty of time to play, and consider being a part of the national 2012 Playground Challenge!
Images via KaBOOM!
Liza Sullivan is a mom of twins in Winnetka, Ill. An Adjunct Faculty Member and Professional Development Instructor for the Winnetka Alliance for Childhood, recently co-founded Through Play, an early childhood educational resource for parents and educators. Get motivated to visit more playgrounds with your kids this summer by joining the 2012 Playground Challenge! The three top Challengers will win a trip for two to DC and all participants can win great prizes throughout the summer.