Disney to partner with Parks Department on pilot program


By Queens Courier Staff |

The Walt Disney Company is sponsoring a summer project with the Parks Department to introduce moveable elements like sand water and “loose parts” including building blocks, shovels and pails to two Queens parks.
Bayswater Park, located on Beach Channel Drive and Norton Avenue in Far Rockaway, and Liberty Park, at 173rd Street and 106th Avenue in Jamaica, are the two Queens parks involved in “Disney's Playworks Playgrounds” project, along with 8 other parks in the City area.
The program is part of a project to rethink how playgrounds across the City are designed, while also offering children with play equipment that allows children greater interaction with their environment. “Play workers,” from the Parks' Summer Playground Associate Program, will staff the playgrounds to assist the children.
The “Playworks” program is based on a theory that a child's capacity for positive development is enhanced if he or she is given access to the broadest range of environments, according to the Parks Department.
While structures currently at many New York City playgrounds, including jungle gyms, slides, swings and seesaws, provide motor benefits and develop strength, flexibility and coordination in children, they are less conducive to developing a child's psychological growth, the Parks Department said.
“Moveable parts in our playgrounds will allow children's play to be bounded only by their imagination, and we hope this pilot program will successfully expand into even more playgrounds throughout the city,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.
The objects at these playgrounds are like those created by The Rockwell Group in the Imagination Playground in Lower Manhattan, which is scheduled to open in 2008. According to the Parks Department, the Imagination Playground will have sand, water, and toys that children can manipulate, and the “free play” structure has been designed to enhance the cognitive skills of children with an unstructured play environment.