I was lucky. Growing up, I was surrounded by friendly neighbours, a safe community and best of all to a kid on her bicycle – places to explore and dream. A nearby park stretched in several directions and this inviting backdrop of green felt endless.
Room to play at the park was key. My friends and I had open spaces for group games like football and baseball as well as the usual playground swings, slides and climbing equipment. During winter months there was a small ice rink and a toboggan slide. Thinking back, my early years bordered on idyllic. (Thank you, parents, for choosing our new development!)
When it comes to new developments, I am the first to champion the importance of play/green space for families and children. Space seems even more precious today, in our ever-expanding infill housing and high-density complexes.
Green space is not a new concept, but creative imaginations have never been more necessary. Planners are busy, based on the innovative methods they devise to keep and re-introduce green spaces within enlarging urban settings.
Take Toronto, where The Bentway opened beneath the Gardiner Expressway in 2019. From concrete jungle to “gardens, events spaces and a skate trail, the mile-long park has turned an underused space into an urban playground. In an extra eco-friendly flourish, the paving even uses recycled construction debris,” writes Connor McGovern in a National Geographic piece. He goes on to include other notable places in the world, from Manhattan’s urban greenway – The High Line – to Brisbane, Australia’s 45-hectare grassy oasis called Victoria Park Golf Course, with markets, play areas and cinemas in the works.
From age two to 92, I’d be surprised to find anyone who objects to urban green spaces, whether you’re welcomed into parks, sports fields, natural meadows or wetlands – take your pick of ecosystem.
The World Health Organization’s list of benefits is support enough: increased physical activity and relaxation, a refuge from noise, and trees that produce oxygen and help filter air pollution. These same trees and gardens also help cool cities.
Another bonus: urban spaces can offer transportation routes to bike or walk to work safely and to connect with others in the community.
From environmental to mental and physical health benefits, I’m an advocate. Makes me want to pull out my bike and attach a playing card to my spokes with a clothespin. Vroom vroom.
I’m no longer a kid, but I still play in the park!
PHOTOS FROM PIXABAY:
Woman by Mohamed Hassan
Buildings by Prawny
Guest Author Bio
Visit Shannon’s Blog / Website