Did you know that playspace equity is racial and health equity? The location and number of playgrounds in your community may be more political than community development. Let me explain. Due to the U.S. history of redlining and continued disinvestment in Black communities, many people of color cannot access safe playgrounds, rec spaces, and open green spaces. Playspace inequity means Black people have fewer areas within walking distance to gather and celebrate, exercise, or be at one with nature.
Health consequences include higher asthma and chronic disease rates in majority Black communities than any other racial group.
Environmental consequences are:
Poorer outdoor and indoor air quality;
Higher concentrations of cancer-causing pollutants; and
The heat island effect (communities are hotter).
Playspace inequity also has financial consequences. For example, communities with parks, playgrounds, and trails have more significant retail development that benefits the community, higher home values, fewer vacant properties, and lower crime.
So, what to do? I want to highlight an excellent article, " Racial Justice in Recreation: Lessons from Three Black Leaders in the Early Struggle for Playspace Equity," from Kaboom!, a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring kids have a place to play. The report sheds light on the history of playspace inequity in the nation's capital, Washington D.C. This may be similar to the community in which you live. Please read it and support Kaboom if you can, or better yet, plan a "Dig" in your community. In 2018, I participated in a playground build with this organization on a very muddy Saturday; read about it here.
Additionally, two grant opportunities from the US Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Justice Office help address the consequences and improve communities. This information was sourced from Grants.gov
Environmental Education Grants Program Under the Environmental Education Grants Program, the EPA seeks grant proposals from eligible applicants to support environmental education projects that promote environmental awareness and stewardship and help provide people with the skills to take responsible actions to protect the environment. This grant program provides financial support for projects that design, demonstrate, and disseminate environmental education practices, methods, or techniques.
Environmental Justice Small Grants Program The Environmental Justice Small Grants Program provides financial assistance to eligible organizations to build collaborative partnerships, identify local environmental and public health issues, envision solutions, and empower the community through education, training, and outreach.