Thanks to a generous, anonymous donor to the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF), children who visit Blue Knob State Park now have a wonderful new playground to enjoy. Given the larger than normal crowds visiting parks like Blue Knob during the pandemic, this playground couldn’t have been built at a better time.
“Play is as important to children’s development as love, shelter, and air,” said Marci Mowery, President of PPFF. “Especially over the past year, as the pandemic separated children from their peers and added stress to their lives, having a safe and enjoyable place to play became even more valuable.”
Research backs up those claims. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that play:
- Improves social skills by encouraging children to communicate, share, and empathize
- Develops imagination and creativity
- Teaches thinking and problem-solving skills to assess risks and tackle new challenges
- Created confidence in their physical and social abilities
- Helps children to let off steam, reducing stress and improving mental health
- Builds life-long exercise habits, improving physical wellbeing
And yet, only one in five homes has a playground or park within a half-mile radius. With the hectic pace of modern life, giving children time to play outdoors in an unstructured way is valuable for so many reasons. For instance, according to research done by the Trust for America’s Health, 57% of Pennsylvania residents are on track to become obese by 2030. Reducing the average body mass index by just 5% could mean an $8 billion dollar savings in health care costs over the next 10 years and $24 billion over the next 20 years! Playgrounds are one part of an overall solution to making children – and their parents – more fit both physically and mentally.
To learn more about PPFF’s “Playgrounds for All” initiative and how you can help, please visit https://paparksandforests.org/support/special-funding-initiatives/playgrounds-for-all.