Three New Orleans parks unite adults and children through play.
It used to be that older adults were the ones trying to keep up with the rest of the world, but in the 21st century, the rest of the world is playing catch up to older adults. They’re more active now with a wider range of interests, hobbies, and influence.
A recent trend spreading across the globe is the increasing popularity of senior and multigenerational playgrounds, which are constructed with older adults in mind with a focus on fitness and the ability for grandma and grandpa to play along with their grandchildren.
In the 1990s, China initiated a law that mandated fitness programs for all ages, and the senior playground was born. In the 2000s, it spread to Europe. In the U.S., senior and multigenerational playgrounds have been slower to catch on, but through projects from Humana, AARP, and the nonprofit Kaboom, more than 100 senior and multigenerational playgrounds have been built.
In on the Action
Senior playgrounds might include a variety of equipment from leg presses and ropes to hand-eye dexterity games. You also might find walking paths and games like Frisbee golf and horseshoes. They’re usually built next to or near the children’s playground equipment. Adults can still be active while watching their young charges play.
Multigenerational playgrounds allow parents, grandparents, and other caregivers to get in on the action with children. Side-by-side or face-to-face swing sets let adults swing along while wider slides on a longer slope help adults keep up with less stress on their bodies.
Playtime in New Orleans
In 2015, East Baton Rouge Parish’s Greenwood Community Park opened the first senior fitness playground in Louisiana. Called a “motion wellness senior station,” it focuses on reducing seniors’ injuries from falls by helping with balance and coordination.
Since then, the NORD Commission has built similar playgrounds in New Orleans, most recently in partnership with AARP at the Joe W. Brown Park in New Orleans East. It includes FitLot exercise equipment, which are designed to be adaptable to meet a wide range of fitness levels and abilities.
The St. Roch playground at 1800 St. Roch Ave. also includes fitness equipment for older adults and, connecting the French Quarter to Bayou St. John, Lafitte Greenway’s fitness playground is between North Broad Street and North Galvez Street. Both are built near the children’s playground and offer FitLot equipment.
Tim Meyer is managing editor of Nola Boomers and its sister publication, Nola Family.