Advocacy for improving children’s play opportunities in New York City

CERG has a particularly concern with the improvements in the quality of play opportunities in cities. This is related to research carried out by CERG members that has revealed the poor availability of play resources for many children in cities (links to papers: Roger’ The Changing City of Childhood” and Sandy Gaster’s papers and Pamela’s dissertation).  Similar, CERG researchers have influenced play environmental policy and practice in New York City by conducting research on playgrounds (link to CERG monographs by Laurie Dien, Jason Schwartzman and Maria Cheung); working closely with the New York City Department of Parks to support their development of new policies and practices in play provision.

Play Garden in NYC

In our determination to find a solution to the lack of play opportunities in the 1990s when even parents were often afraid to use public playgrounds in some neighborhoods, we worked in direct collaboration with community residents to develop a new model for children’s play areas that we called “Play Gardens” and we built a number of these small play areas for young children in community gardens in the South Bronx and the Lower East side of Manhattan. CERG has a long relationship of collaboration in conferences and workshops with the Child Development Institute of Sarah Lawrence College in innovation for children’s play. In 2008 we held a conference at the Graduate Center, jointly sponsored with Alliance for Childhood and Sara Lawrence College on the state of children’s play in New York City. Out of this was formed the New York Play Coalition. This coalition remains very active and we continue to collaborate closely with its members. CERG has collaborated with many designers over the years in the programming and design of children’s play spaces but the work with Rockwell Design on the innovative Imagination Playground has been particularly fulfilling. The designers allowed us to assist them in all phases of design and development of a new kind of public play space where children themselves can be the designers!

Child Care Design

An Early Childhood Center in Bogota, Colombia

CERG has assisted the government of Colombia, and in particular, Bogota, in partnership with CINDE (The International Center for Education and Human Development) in a range of projects.  One of the more interesting and innovative was to help the department of social welfare in Bogota to think how it might promote its innovative program for developing citizenship for all ages by rethinking how it works with pre-school children. CERG argued convincingly that the design of the physical environment should be an important component of the plan because it affects teacher’s capacities to manage classrooms in a participatory manner. As a result, a contract was awarded to CERG  to rewrite the design guidelines for child care centers in Bogota.

In 2010, CERG joined with IPA to initiate a global consultation on children’s right to play that led to the UN General Comment on the Child’s Right to Play drafting and launch at the United Nations in Geneva in 2014 (