Our Playground Community Survey Results are in!

Over May & early June, we were thrilled to see over 550 online surveys completed by youth and adults, and 225 paper surveys in which youth shared their favorite types of play and their creativity in drawings and descriptions of dream playgrounds.

Washington Park Conservancy is grateful for the support and help of the Boys & Girls Club of the Greater Capital Area, who incorporated the survey into their after-school programming at Sheridan Preparatory Academy (SPA), New Scotland Elementary School (NSES), Arbor Hill Elementary School, Eagle Point Elementary, Thomas O’Brien Academy of Science and Technology (TOAST), Giffen Elementary, Delaware Community School (DCS), and Albany School of Humanities (ASH), and into their teen program at the BGCGCA Clubhouse.

RISSE also used the youth survey in their programming, and students from Philip Schuyler Academy, TOAST, SPA, ASH, Eagle Point Elementary, and Myers & Hackett Middle Schools sent us their ideas!

In partnership with the Albany Public LIbrary, our survey was shared with youth attending the South End Night Market, and each branch of the library became a collection site for completed surveys.

We also received incredibly creative responses from second graders at NSES and ASH, including  illustrated persuasive essays to Mayor Kathy Sheehan about how to draw more people to Washington Park. We were so excited to see the creative ways the survey was used in classrooms across the city!

ASH art students all completed the online survey as part of their remote learning, and we were happy to see surveys come in from intensive special education classrooms, homeschool students, and students from private schools like Castle Island Montessori.

Regina McCormick & Amanda Mannato— ASH Kindergarten & Art teachers, respectively— took the opportunity to design a multi-subject unit around play and playgrounds. The class began with discussions of what “play” means to the students, then completion of their paper surveys before diving into a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) unit on 3D shapes, building playgrounds, and drawing plans. Our project consultants, TWMLA and EarthPlay, were excited to look at these plans during a WPC visit to their office in Ithaca, NY; the creativity and detail students shared was incredibly informative and consistent across ages and schools.

WPC also thanks the following organizations for sharing our paper survey and electronic survey over the course of their regular outreach and operations. We are so grateful for our community partners, including The RED Bookshelf, The Baby Institute, Masjid As-Salam, In Our Own Voices, the South End Children’s Cafe, Trinity Nursery School & Daycare, and Grand Street Community Arts.

What did the results tell us?

In short, we learned that youth want swings (LOTS of swings, tall ones so they feel like they’re “flying”), something high to climb (“high enough to watch out for Zombies”), slides (water slides, slides into mud puddles), and the opportunities to explore, rest in quiet, and play with water (sand and mud).

Many students asked for things we wish we could include – a chocolate fountain, jacuzzi, race track, animals – and others for more attainable things – “I want to play in the mud because I want to make mud pies,” or “a track around the playground to ride my bike,” and from an older student “parkour, challenge myself, adventurous, not standard, climbing, tricky obstacle courses.”

What’s next?

Now that our consultants, TWMLA and EarthPlay, have the community input they need to begin designing, we look forward to seeing their initial concept designs and creating opportunities for community feedback on them both virtually and in person.