Laramie has been included on a national list of “playful cities” with policies that promote play among children.
Children today play less than any previous generation, according to a statement from KaBOOM!, a non-profit that helps communities build playgrounds. The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics says play is necessary for social, emotional and physical well-being of children.
Laramie has a housing development ordinance that requires new developments to donate to a local parks fund, or set aside space for parks.
Laramie’s Parks and Recreation Department Director Paul Harrison says this “playful city” designation opens up opportunities for grants to maintain playgrounds in the city.
“Children need their own space to socialize,” Harrison says. “And when they’re socializing with other children, and playing and using their creativity to play games, they’re happier and fitter, and we see it every day.”
Laramie created a committee to gather public information for a parks master plan, and Harrison says parents say they’d prefer to send their kids to a small park a block from home than a big park several blocks from home. Harrison says these small “pocket parks” will likely become the focus for future development.
“It’s obviously going to be a challenge to maintain many much smaller areas, but we always try to react to what the citizenry wants and try and meet their needs as best we can.”
Harrison says Laramie already has three pocket parks, and plans to quadruple that in the next few decades. Laramie is currently accepting public comment on the parks master plan.