Many are puzzling over how digital technology can be designed to work more for us than against us. But countless such tools already exist to do that—it’sjust a matter of how we use them. This is a personal example of how individuals orchestrated our public-serving governmental entities and digital creations to improve a community’s quality of life.
On a beautiful day in 1999, a few years after we moved to our newly-built suburban neighborhood near Washington, D.C., I got the urge to walk with my six-year-old son to a nearby park.
This was no ordinary destination, but the serene and meticulously cared-for Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, the only such facility in all of northern Virginia.
Though barely a mile long, the walk itself was tough. We fought through tall grass along winding Beulah Road—surely trespassing on other people’s yards. As we trudged ahead, we noticed a trampled area, replete with the fresh detritus of a car accident.
Did you know elementary-aged kids have about half the core strength kids had only a decade ago? Overall creativity has also taken a hit. The way we use technology gives us more reasons than ever to sit down. Like us, kids don’t move around as much and have less free time to use their imaginations. What’s the solution for more healthy and durable young bodies and minds? Plenty of free play outdoors in the sunshine and breeze!
For year-round adventure, these amazing parks in the Washington, D.C. area don’t have swings, slides, or other typical playground equipment, but guarantee a healthy whole-child workout.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA is a gorgeous destination for the whole family where—amid hundreds of ornamental and native plants and the occasional nosy goose—there’s a garden just for kids, perfect for little ones to touch and smell the herbs and flowers, stow away in hidden spaces, and host imaginary tea parties.
Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Annandale, VA features Nature Playce, a free-play utopia where kids use hay bales, sticks, and rounds of wood to build forts and castles they can knock right down when they are finished if they want to. Here, kids use all their muscle groups and build skills they can’t in the classroom.
Constitution Gardens Park in Gaithersburg, MD is a completely accessible urban hideaway with tons of sand, a water play area, and whimsical structures to climb, all made from local sycamore wood. Kids of all ages have plenty of space to explore and move to their own playtime agenda.