Kids Design Dream Plaground


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Playground architect John Dean has a great job. He asks kids what they want in their playground. When he showed up at the Winn Brook Elementary School in September of 2012, the 450 students gave him an excited earful: zip line, curvy slide, hiding places. Of course, not every idea made it into the final blueprint: think jello floors and a hot tub. The kids’ input, however, is at the heart of the new Joey’s Park design. They watched while Dean sketched out the first ideas. They brought their parents to see the initial plan unveiled in the Winn Brook gym. Best of all, they’ll soon be playing on the park they helped design.

The day started early with a preliminary meeting at the park. Friends of Joey’s Park Committee members met with the designers to review the site and to highlight best and worst elements from the park today.

Designers with Committee1

Reviewing Equipment

Next, the designers spent the morning visiting with each class at Winn Brook Elementary, talking to students about the process and recording their ideas and suggestions.




Reporter Amalia Barreda of WCVB 5 News came with a crew to observe the proceedings. She interviewed both current students, and also Joey’s childhood friends, Tim Brodigan and Jane MacKinnon (née Flavin).

Amalia Barreda Interviews Children

Amalia Barreda Interviews Friends

After a quick lunch, the designers took advantage of beautiful weather to sit outside in view of the park and sketch out new ideas. Children at recess were naturally drawn to this part of the process.


By dinnertime, the preliminary design was finished. Over pizza and salad, the designers reviewed highlights with the Committee and discussed the town presentation that would take place shortly thereafter.

Designers with Committee2

Following on the heels of a PTA ice cream social, the town presentation drew quite a crowd.


Here it is — the preliminary design that resulted from the day’s efforts.