CERG has a particular 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 (see The Changing City of Childhood, as well as dissertations by Sandy Gaster and Pamela Wridt). CERG researchers have influenced play environment policy and practice in New York City by conducting research on playgrounds by Laurie Dien, Jason Schwartzman and Maria Cheung; working closely with the New York City Department of Parks to support them in their development of new policies and practices in play provision.
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!
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 in one particularly challenging neighborhood in the Bronx to develop an open space plan , Out of this came a realization for the need for a new model for children’s play areas that we called “Play Gardens” and we demonstrating the potentials of this idea by building a number of them for young children in community gardens in the South Bronx and the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
In 2010 CERG joined with IPA to initiate a global consultation on children’s right to play that lead to the UN General Comment on the Child’s Right to Play being drafted and launched at the United Nations in Geneva in 2014.