A New York City children’s play group came to the neighborhood last Saturday to prove that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
Pop-Up Adventure Play, a non-profit organization which is a charitable project of Fractured Atlas, held their Adventure Playground at McCarren Park, a self-directed play opportunity for children of all ages. Boxes and pieces of fabric, among other items, were spread out across a grassy area of the park as hundreds of local children turned them into forts and rocket ships.
“There’s a lack of good, self-structured play programs for children in the city,” said Morgan Leichter-Saxby, co-founder of Pop-Up Adventure Play. “A lot of times, parents are just dropping kids off at classes or after-school programs, and either these children don’t know how to entertain themselves independently or the parents don’t know how to create a play atmosphere for them.”
Pop-Up Adventure Play is largely rooted in the British Playwork tradition, an actual profession for which university students can obtain degrees in Europe. These public events are staffed by trained professionals who assist with the children’s play without directing it. The field is informed by best practices from the fields of playwork theory, child development and education.
In addition to the playgroups throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan, Leichter-Saxby said the company also has an environmental agenda. Most of the items are donated pieces from moving companies, and children can take home any items made during the event.
“These are items which would have been in a dump,” said Leichter-Saxby. “We have fabric pieces that were donated by The Cutting Room as well, so we’re proving that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to keep your children entertained.”
The non-profit has expanded to the Boston and Rochester areas in recent years, and has even helped establish programs in areas including Alaska and Costa Rica. They will also be hosting a summer long Pop-Up Adventure Playground on Governor’s Island every Saturday beginning June 7.
“It’s going to be huge,” said Leichter-Saxby. “We had about 800 kids show up when we did an adventure playground in Central Park last year, and we’re expecting similar numbers for this by the end of the summer.
For details on locations and times for these Adventure Playgrounds, visit www.popupadventureplay.org.