Liza Sullivan is passionate about play and advocating for play. As both a parent and educator, Liza is a resident of Winnetka, Ill., an Adjunct Faculty Member and Professional Development Instructor for the Winnetka Alliance for Childhood. This past summer Liza and her 4 ½ year old twins took part in Kaboom’s Park-A-Day Summer Challenge and is now leading the charge for this year’s national Park-A-Day KaBOOM! Summer Challenge. She has also published and Op-Ed in the Chicago Tribune.
From Liza Sullivan:
“Last summer, KaBOOM! chose six families to participate in the first-ever Park-A-Day Summer Challenge. Over the course of the summer, these families visited over 50 different parks, playgrounds, and public playspaces in their communities. They shared stories in our Summer Challenge Discussion Group, as well as photos and reviews of each playspace in our Map of Play.
A summer full of play sounds like fun (and everything a summer should be!), but it proved to be much more than that. Participating in the Challenge was a transformative experience for the kids and adults alike. Challenger Liza Sullivan (left, with her twins) has previously written about the six life skills her children learned; now, she joins us again to talk about the top 5 benefits to parents:
- Regular outdoor play is as revitalizing and energizing to parents as it is to children. The Challenge gives you a chance to be a kid again. No matter your age, activities like swinging, building sandcastles, rolling down grassy hills, and running through a fountain on hot summer days are good for the soul. You will also have incentive to escape from computers, piles of laundry, and other distractions.
- It will be easier to get your kids to bed. Each day will provide your children with opportunities to be physically active as they increase their strength, coordination, and endurance. As a result, they won’t be as squirmy at home and will rarely have trouble falling asleep at night!
- Your role as a parent expands. Rather than constantly playing the role of disciplinarian, you become a support to your child’s exploration, discovery, and learning. As you explore playgrounds and nature areas, your children will undoubtedly ask you endless questions, and each day will be filled with teachable moments. Regular outdoor play will help you instill independence, cooperation, resilience, persistence, and love of the outdoors in your children.
- You meet new people in your neighborhood. Parks are created to be social places for parents as well as children. As you explore, you will inevitably strike up conversations with other parents, contributing to a sense of community and connectedness. This can be particularly meaningful for stay-at-home parents – a job that is sometimes very isolating.
- Your family can experience new places right at home. Many participants, myself included, found that until they took on the Challenge, they were unaware of the surprising number of parks, playgrounds, and nature preserves in or near their community. They discovered hidden gems and explored nearby neighborhoods they had never had reason to visit before.
As a gift to yourself and your children this summer, allow for plenty of time to play, and consider being a part of the national Park-A-Day KaBOOM! Summer Challenge!”