The city’s Department of Parks and Recreation just announced a pilot program, to build a better playground project supported by the Walt Disney Company, to introduce sand, water and other “loose parts” to 10 existing playgrounds across the city. The department said in a news release:
This year, the city divulged plans to build an innovative playground near South Street Seaport that would change the way children play. The new playground concept is to emphasize an environment that children can manipulate, like sand and water; props like building blocks, buckets, shovels, pulleys, wagons and wheelbarrows; and trained “play associates” whose “job is to ensure a diverse, creative play space.”
As Diane Cardwell reported, the idea for the Imagination Playground — which now has its own Web site — came from David Rockwell, known for creating adult play spaces like the restaurants Nobu and Café Gray in Manhattan and the Mohegan Sun casino and resort in Connecticut.
Peaceful Playgrounds an international playground programming company from California, has long supported the notion of "loose playground equipment" ie. balls, jumpropes, hoops etc for school recess programming. According to Peaceful Playgrounds owner and developer, Dr. Melinda Bossenmeyer, having loose equipment also contributes to more physically active children on the playground. She points to a study by physical activity researcher Dr. Thom McKenzie that found that adding balls, bean bags, hoops, jumpropes etc contributed to increased physical activity levels in children at recess. His study included approximately 40,000 children.