Offering year round education in the form of innovative, research-based programs, events, and workshops, designed for children, families, schools, educators, volunteers, and community members Ithaca Children’s Garden is described as a program and a place. The garden was organized in 1197 by organized in 1997 by Harriet Becker, Mary Alyce Kobler, and Monika Roth.
In 2004 the organization secured a lease of 3 acres in Cass Park from the city of Ithaca. The garden’s Nature Anarchy Zone demonstrates and exemplifies the educational and developmental benefits of unstructured play.
Kids can get dirty digging for worms, playing with rocks and sticks, building forts, climbing trees, and generally daring to engage in the kind of wild and unsanitized play that was common 70 years ago but would scandalize today’s average helicopter parent.
Somehow children’s lives and time have become overwhelmingly structured, scheduled play dates appointment outings that have supervised structure agendas and schedules. "We’re starting to make the connection that our children don’t have access to enough free play," says Erin Marteal, executive director of Ithaca Children’s Garden, which established the Anarchy Zone in 2012. "There’s data to back it up that children are more creative, more active, and they communicate better when they’re engaged in open-ended play that they’re directing."
Other such adventure playgrounds are popping up around the country as more and more parents embrace the idea of unstructured play.
The beauty of a space like the Anarchy Zone, Ms. Marteal says, is that almost nothing is dictated to the kids. There are only three rules: Children in the zone must take care of themselves, each other, and the environment. Their mission is a simple one.. to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards
To make a donation or learn more about Ithaca Children’s Garden and unstructured adventure playgrounds visit http://ithacachildrensgarden.org/