When I was around seven years old, I got in a fight with my neighborhood friends. We were in the middle of a pretty competitive game of tackle football and one of my good buddies was talking a lot of trash. I remember getting so angry at something that he said, that I just went off and punched him right in the gut. That one action quickly led to an all out brawl.
I never got spanked or grounded for that fight. In fact, I'm pretty sure none of our parents even knew about it. You see, the fight ended just as quickly as it started because we realized that being angry at each other just wasn't fun. We couldn't play together if we were angry at each other. We realized that something was off about our relationship when we were upset at each other. So we quickly forgave one another and moved on to doing what we loved - playing together.
Think for a moment about some of the greatest lessons you learned as a child. Chances are they were learned on a football field, a baseball diamond, in a backyard, or in the middle of a game. As children, we learned things like teamwork, resiliency, and accountability through play. God intentionally gave children the work of play. Famed child psychologist David Elkind once said "Play is not only our creative drive; it is a fundamental mode of learning."
Now imagine a life without play. Imagine living in a neighborhood where it just isn't safe to go outside and play. Try to picture living in the middle of so much trauma that you don't even have the desire to play. This is the reality for many of the children in our community and it is the reason why Brookside Community Play exists.
We believe that a child can learn and grow and become who God has created him or her to be through play. If we want to see children become better students, better family members, even better citizens, then we need to create avenues of safe play. We need to create safe environments where a kid can mess up, where a child can achieve goals, where a kid can hitting the winning shot.
We all need a little more play.