People in the Park (August 2014)

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People in the Park

For the past two summers, I have enjoyed taking my child to play in Winthrop Park in our neighborhood. The people in the park that I have seen regularly have really enjoyed their time with their children and I have been pleased to see the many toy donations to the park.

The sand pit toys can be arranged quickly for easy access.
I have noticed that after the children played with the donated toys in the sand pit or the spray pool, as expected, these areas looked disorganized.  Also, many of the donated children's vehicles were left in different areas of the park.

So, when my daughter was using the sand pit, I would dig out any buried toys and place them along the side of the sand pit so that children could access them and my daughter could find them.   Once she was finished playing, I placed some of the items (that she had used) on the edge of the sand pit for the next child to enjoy.

I collected these vehicles nearby and placed them in an open area.

I have no problem organizing these toys while my child played in the sand pit because I want all of the children to be able to find the toys. Organizing and arranging the toys encourages the children to play and have fun in the sand pit.

Many parents that spent time in this park did not always realize that by not cleaning up after their child had played, the park looked messy, disorganized and unpleasant.

 That is why I encourage parents to pitch in when you are in the park with your child/children and help make the park pleasant and fun for the children.

If you notice a broken toy, please remove and dispose of it -these toys are not safe!
I left the chalk behind for the children to have fun creating sidewalk drawings.
It was not a big deal for me during our time in the park to organize a few sand pit toys, arrange a few children's vehicles, remove a broken toy (these are dangerous for young children/babies) and bring sidewalk chalk to donate.

Extra chalk can be placed on tables to create drawings together.

On a recent park trip with my daughter, I took pictures of examples of a few things that parents can do in the park to help tidy up the park, make it safer and more fun for the children. For example, picking up a few small branches of leaves while walking with my daughter around the park equipment, or, removing some stones that may cause an accident.

Small branches with multiple leaves littered this section of the park.
I placed the branches of leaves in a pile in a grassy area of the park while walking with my daughter.
The same play area after I picked up the branches of leaves.

Stones this size are too large to be in or near the play area, I remove them.
Again, if you are donating toys to the park, new toys are the best ones to give.

If you are  bringing toys to the park for your children and their friends to play with, a good idea is to write your name on the toys with a marker in case one of your toys gets separated from the rest - other parents will see your name on them and place them to the side (if you want to include a phone number, that is optional).

Remember that some of the people in the park may have accidentally left their child's toy behind and will return to retrieve it, so it is best to assume that the toys in the park are not all donated.
My donated pails and floating duck family set for the spray pool (ducklings floating in the middle).
My 'sand toy set' (by Play Right) arranged for the children to use.
Below I have created a list of useful suggestions for parents to review before their next trip to their local park:

1. Organizing for children's play: If your child is using the sand pit, dig out and organize the toys that are not in use.  I saw many parents watching their children in the sand pit without realizing that many fun, interesting toys were buried nearby. If you dig them out your child will spend more time enjoying the sand pit. This is where a little effort on the parent's part can go a long way.

2. Remove obvious trash, including broken toys: I noticed that many of the parents did not remove broken toys - I suspect it is because they did not want to throw away something that was donated by another parent for the park.  However, if the toy is broken (for example, wheels are broken and missing), it is simply time to place it in the trash without guilt because it is now a hazard for small children!

3. Remove excess branches and large stones: If you are walking with your child around the park and can scoop up stones and excess branches, that is greatly appreciated - this will help others avoid slipping/falling in the park.

4. Place children's vehicles in one, accessible spot: This is nice for the children because they know where the vehicles are located rather than becoming frustrated searching the park for their favorite vehicle. If you get chance to place a donated vehicle in the accessible spot, that is greatly appreciated.

5. Chalk: Donated chalk is always appreciated. I like to bring a typical $1 carton of sidewalk chalk, break each piece in half and leave the pieces behind for other children to enjoy creating sidewalk drawings. It is best to leave the chalk in an area of the park where parents are sitting (children feel safer when parents are nearby).

6. Donated, undamaged toys are appreciated: The most useful toys are sand pit toys (shovels, pails, etc.)  and spray pool toys (ducks, pails).  Children's vehicles are great to have as well, as long as the wheels are in good shape and the vehicle is still mobile.
Link to the Sand Toy Set by Play Right:
Link to the Duck Family by Play Right:

Swinging with Daddy.
7. Park equipment: When having your child play on the park equipment, I always stay right by her side climbing on the equipment with her, or walking alongside, to avoid injuries from falling through an opening accidentally.

Mommy helping me down from the stairs.
I have seen children in danger of falling through the openings of the equipment because their parents were preoccupied with a phone call, talking to other parents or simply, sitting too far away from the equipment. I saw a small child (under 2 years old) fall off of the park equipment recently, so I encourage parents to stay with your children on the equipment and avoid these accidents!

I know the park benches are a temptation for parents, but it is better to stay on your feet with your small child and stay alert!

I hope my buddies find this information useful and if you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at

Happy day at the park everyone!  

-Joy E. 
Posted August 14, 2014   

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