What is playtime? As a child, you would never question what playing is because it just comes naturally to you. As we become adults and our lives get busy, scheduling time for play becomes more difficult, but is essential to our well-being.
Oftentimes, especially in more urban areas, playgrounds are some of our first introductions to play as we interact with open green space. Play is the gateway to vitality. It generates more optimism, boosts your immune system and creates a sense of belonging and community that plays an important role in our personal health, no matter your age.
Part of the park district’s Capital Development Plan is the Playground Replacement Program. The district has scheduled the replacement of each of its playgrounds on a 15-year rotation. To date, 32 playgrounds have been constructed or replaced.
“This program is critical because of safety, accessibility, and increasing the play value of the equipment,” said Jim Eby, director of Capital Projects. “After 15 years, the playground material begins to break down. It also provides us an opportunity to evaluate requirements for accessibility and making improvements. The program allows us to stay current with the newest designs that are being developed.”
The Playground Replacement Program is a program that ensures Batavia, on average, has two new playgrounds each year. Having a strong attachment to their neighborhood playgrounds, many residents are curious where playgrounds go at the end of their life stage. That’s where the Kids Around the World organization comes in. The organization, based out of Rockford, removes, refurbishes, restores and relocates playgrounds all over the world. Since their inception in 1994, they have worked in more than 60 countries.
Recently, David Dahl, the organization’s playground project manager, was interviewed about his experience working with our playgrounds.
“I’ve installed three or four Batavia playgrounds around the world, which is pretty significant since we only do about 12 to 14 per year,” he said. “The best part is getting to dedicate them and watching the kids play. The sound of children playing sounds exactly the same no matter the language and location. It’s such a blessing to bring the opportunity of play to these kids and we couldn’t do it without partners like Batavia Park District. ”
If you are curious to know where Batavia’s playgrounds have been sent, we’re eager to share that with you. Parts of Saratoga Park are in Lebanon and Jamaica, Millview Park is in Botswana, parts of Engstrom Family Park are in Lebanon and Jamaica, Hartfield Park is in Ecuador, Fidler Farm is in the Philippines, and parts of Prairie Path Park are in Fiji and Nepal.
Work already has begun on a few playgrounds this year. Jones Meadow Park and Memorial Woods Park are both up for replacement in 2019. Playground removal began April 9, and the new sets are due to be completed by the end of July.
The park district’s monthly YouTube “Get to Know” series will be posting a special feature on the new playgrounds on April 25, or to learn more, you can visit bataviaparks.org. For more information about the Kids Around the World organization or volunteer opportunities, visit katw.net.