Involving kids good idea

Published 10:12 pm Monday, August 19, 2013

Who is better suited to design a playground than the children who will be using it?

That was the question that spurred the Taylor Bend YMCA in Western Branch to involve a group of youngsters in the planning of a new 2,500-square-foot, multi-generational playground last week.

Judging from the enthusiastic participation of the children, including them in the planning for the playground at the YMCA, which attracts a large contingent of Suffolk residents, was a grand notion.


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Whether those ideas — a slide built into a trampoline was one of the more exotic ones — come to fruition in the final design of the project is less important than the fact of involving the kids in the process. With the completion of the project, which is supported by national nonprofit KaBOOM!, the young YMCA members will be able to proudly exclaim their integral part of the process, and it will have more meaning to them because of their participation.

Suffolk is fortunate to have three YMCA facilities within or close to its borders. The Taylor Bend facility serves many residents in the northern end of the city; the Suffolk Family YMCA is centrally located on Godwin Boulevard for much of Suffolk’s population; and the newest facility, Camp Arrowhead, located on Kenyon Road, offers a great venue for swimming competitions and day camps, along with the city’s only ropes course.

Considering the epidemic proportions of obesity and diabetes in Suffolk, the existence of so many good nonprofit choices for recreation and fitness for both children and adults is a real boon for healthy lifestyles.

Though most of those facilities were not designed by children, their designs and programs serve children well. But the folks at the Taylor Bend facility might be onto something. After all, when you think about it, who wouldn’t want a slide with a trampoline at the bottom?