Chicago Commons Dedicates New Paulo Freire Family Center Playground
Today, Chicago Commons, a neighborhood-focused social service organization, dedicated the new Paulo Freire Family Center Playground in Chicago’s Back of the Yards/New City neighborhood. The new playground is the first natural playground built for a Chicago Head Start program, incorporating nature into traditional playground activities, creating a better learning environment for children.
“This new playground enriches our city’s growing network of high quality early learning facilities and is a model for others to follow,” said Evelyn Diaz, commissioner of Chicago Department of Family Support Services.
“We are very excited to open this new playground,” said Dan Valliere, executive director of Chicago Commons. “The space is an energetic, fun place where children can play and explore while connecting more directly with the natural world. We are thankful to all everyone who supported and championed this important project.”
The playground includes a range of plants for children to explore and flexible play spaces such as a stage, an open field and a log alcove. The playground fits with Chicago Common’s Reggio Emilia-inspired curriculum, which encourages children to use their imagination, work on group projects and explore the natural environment.
The playground, designed by Hitchcock Design Group, is aligned with principles of Chicago Wilderness and the “Leave No Child Inside” campaign. This campaign is focused on reversing the increasing disconnection between children and the natural environment. The addition of a natural playground in a dense, economically challenged neighborhood allows children to grow through creative self-discovery while interacting with others. Ninety percent of the children served at the Paulo Freire Family Center are from low-income families. With limited resources and chances to travel outside of the community, the new natural playground provides a new opportunity for children to connect with the outdoors.
Chicago Commons constructed the playground through the generosity of the Hurvis Family, The Resurrection Project, and Illinois Action for Children.
Chicago Commons is also planning to renovate three additional playgrounds in the Humboldt Park and Pilsen neighborhoods, allowing the children in those communities to benefit from a natural playground.
For more information about Chicago Commons, visit www.chicagocommons.org.