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Governors Island's most creative, hands-on playground is opening with a new name

Written by
Tolly Wright

Slides, swings and seesaws are great fun, but for big kids who would rather roll up their sleeves and build their playground themselves, look no further than The Yard. Previously known as Play:ground, The Yard is a 50,000 square foot adventure playground on Governors Island that is well stocked with donated materials children can use to create their own playscapes. It gets its new name as a homage to the first "junk playground" in the United States that opened in Minneapolis in 1949, which was also called the "Yard." It opens for the 2018 season on May 5 at noon.

Rebecca Faulkner, Executive Director of play:ground NYC, told Time Out New York, "As far as opening day goes, we can't wait to see what the kids will build this year!"

Now in its third year, the playground has quickly become a local favorite. Children over 6 years old enter the kids-only space while caregiver remain outside to allow for maximum freeplay. There they use loose parts like cardboard, rope, wood planks, tires, discarded plastics, fabrics and more to construct pirate ships, vehicles, shelters, hats and whatever else they can imagine. Trained playworkers are inside the space to help facilitate collaboration and friendly play, and instruct the young visitors on how to safely use the available (real, not plastic!) tools, including hammers, nails, saws, tape, glue, paint, chalk and mud. Younger siblings and families with children ages 5 and younger can explore the family adventure play area where parents and kids can use materials to explore their playful sides together. 

“The Yard provides the opportunity for New York City youth to take control of their environments,” says Faulkner. “At a time when so many children are facing major physical and mental health problems as a result of growing up in cities that do not prioritize their needs, The Yard demonstrates the transformative power of self-directed outdoor play.”

The playground is free and open to the public only on the weekends. During the week The Yards hosts a weekly summer camp, with sessions running from July 9 to August 31 ($625 per week, with sibling discounts and scholarships available). More information available here

The Yard is open on Sat and Sun from May 5 through October 27. 

Can't wait until May 5? Check out the other best playgrounds in New York City, the best kids' play spaces in NYC or the best fun places for kids in New York.

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