All keiki deserve fun and safe play spaces where they can run, climb, jump and gather with neighborhood friends – regardless of the types of “neighborhoods” those may be.
It’s easy to imagine kids running down the front steps of their homes, jumping on their bikes, and speeding off to the park around the corner to meet their friends at the playground or basketball court.
But in cities like the new Kaka’ako in Downtown Ward, where the “homes” are 30-40 story highrises – we do “parks” a bit differently.
Children who grow up in cities tend to have much less outdoor play access and opportunity than those who live in more suburban or country environments.
But why is this important?
Playgrounds and parks in cities offer some key benefits to the children and families in those communities:
Parks and playgrounds create a heightened sense of community, which increases personal connection and accountability, and decreases negative behavior (like crime & vandalism).
Outdoor play opportunities serve an important role in supporting children’s mental health and emotional well-being. Just being outside in nature with fresh air and Vitamin D can relieve negative feelings like stress and depression. Adding the elements of friends, fun, and physical activity boosts the experience of happiness and confidence building even more!
Children can learn valuable social skills out at the park, playground, or on the courts. Their interaction in these environments is unstructured and undirected by adults, providing them with a greater opportunity to develop their own emotional intelligence, self-regulate in their emotional responses, and practice active communication and cooperation to make decisions and problem-solve more independently.
Over the last decade, we have built recreation spaces on the rooftops of many new highrises in Honolulu to provide play opportunities to the children and families living in these urban environments. Our newest (and biggest, AND most exciting!) has just been completed on the 8th floor of the new Ko’ula highrise. Here’s a sneak peek of the design and construction in-progress: