A journey to discover the people who change our world.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Breaking the Boundaries of Play

Sometimes you just can’t meet everyone. But there are always phones.

Meeting with Amy Jaffe Barzach didn’t happen in person (time constraints, New York traffic) but we did have an interesting conversation. Amy is the co-founder of Boundless Playgrounds, an organisation which aims to make play accessible to all children, of all ability, across the US.

I hadn’t thought much about playground design before meeting Amy, but it is amazing what a shift in thinking about audience, and a few small design changes can do. Wider slides, ramps, sandpits at knee and waist level, wider doors. From a distance a Boundless Playground may look the same as any other playground, but such small changes can mean inclusion for a child who otherwise would be sitting on the sidelines.

It was exactly that image which got Amy going in the first place. Seeing a child in a wheelchair unable to access the local playground seemed like a cruel irony to her, and it got her thinking about the changes she could make to improve the interaction of that child. 100 playgrounds later she is still going strong. She has build up a team around her and is working with playground manufactures to think differently about who their products are for.

Boundless Playgrounds is a great example of seeing solutions though different eyes. By seeing who are on the margin, Amy has managed to shift where those boundaries are.

Play just got a lot more playful.



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