Pass the Bucket with Jeff Ament (by offthewalltv)While achieving tremendous success in the music industry as the bassist and co-founder of Pearl Jam, Jeff Ament has made it a mission to pay it back as an activist, philanthropist, and skate park builder. Growing up with humble beginnings in rural Montana, Jeff witnessed not only the tranquility of rural life, but also the difficulties that can often accompany growing up in extremely isolated areas. Luckily, Jeff found skateboarding, fell in love with it, and discovered the self-confidence that it can inspire. Remembering his roots and the positive effects skateboarding can have on young people, Jeff currently helps build epic skate parks in some of the most rural and deprived areas in the west. His most recent venture on the impoverished Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota is maybe his most rewarding project to date.
This 5th-grader from Cache la Poudre Elementary School in La Porte, Colo. thinks that his recess teachers need to “loosen up.” Why? According to him, their safety concerns are not only making it hard to stay active, but also to have any fun.
Exercise is really important and that is why I think the recess teachers should loosen up. We kids are just trying to have fun. Every day, it is a struggle to find what to do at recess, and then the next day, the fun is taken away.
For example, recently I was playing with a jump rope. I come out to school recess the next day and they are already gone. I want to complain to the recess teachers, but that will just get them mad at us all. I know they are just trying to keep us safe, but sometimes I think it is going over the line. Normally, teachers say school shouldn’t be boring and it should be for learning and part of learning is being active. But these teachers are making it extra hard to do this.
Have the fun in building anything with sand, blocks, Legos, or dominos is knocking it all down.
Play Today, Lead Tomorrow
From our CEO and Founder, Darell Hammond:
I was humbled and honored to be recognized as a Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the Year. One of the benefits is an invitation to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, being held January 25-29. In considering what a community builder and play advocate brings to this gathering of thought leaders, I thought it is the perfect place to talk about the importance of play and its appropriate role in society.
I often say that play is the best natural resource in a creative economy. I’m not the only one who thinks so. In a recent IBM study of 1,500 CEOs, creativity was deemed the most important leadership quality in today’s complex social and economic environment.
Unstructured play gives kids the space they need to tinker and take risks — both vital for the budding entrepreneur. Yet, too frequently these opportunities are being taken away from our kids in favor of more structured activities or time in front of a computer screen. The lack of free, child-directed play time for our kids today will have dire consequences for these future leaders, making them less prepared to solve complex challenges and problems. That is one reason why KaBOOM! has embraced the concept of the Imagination Playground which uses loose parts and encourages kids to use their imaginations and be creative.
Play also paves the way for successful relationships. One of the things I am most looking forward to in Davos is meeting people from all over the world who have different experiences than mine. I am guaranteed to learn something unexpected from someone I have yet to meet, something that will spark an idea worth pursuing. Playgrounds are the perfect training ground for kids today who are growing up in ever more transient and diverse communities. The sandbox is a figurative melting pot of ideas where our kids are first exposed to different points of view. The playground is where kids learn to build relationships, share and negotiate.
The World Economic Forum brings together 2,500 CEOs and government leader “committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.” My message to them is that we must shift our societal values to recognize the importance of play in our children’s physical, emotional and cognitive development, not just for their health, but for the health of our world.
Originally posted on the Huffington Post, 1/20/2012.
For folks interested in how kids used to play in large, urban environments, we highly recommend checking out the documentary New York Street Games.
Narrated by Hector Elizondo, New York Street Games captures a special time in American history and looks back at all things great about New York and past generations. From Boxball to Ring-o-leavio to Scully, the film addresses the social and cultural importance of these games and the sense of community they engendered. Take a trip back to the asphalt fields of New York City today!
PS: A portion of the proceeds go to KaBOOM!, but I can tell you from experience, it’s well worth your time to give it a view.