[Editor’s Note: The following is a guest-post from regular Changing Aging contributor Al Power]
In honor of Bill Thomas’ speaking tour of the UK, check out this recent report from “Good Morning America” (follow link to video “Playgrounds for the Elderly”):
Manchester, England has built a playground for seniors only. The benefits of play for seniors are well-described here; not only the physical benefits and the socialization, but the “fun factor” too. That’s all very well, but this type of non-goal directed activity isn’t such a remarkable stretch for elders, who have already become experts in the realm of “being”.
Do you know who REALLY needs these playgrounds? Adults! Not retirees in their 80’s; I’m talking about all of us 40- and 50-somethings who are obsessed with “doing”, and measure each other simply by what we produce. Even our leisure activities – jogging, cycling, book clubs – have taken on a rather obsessive quality of pushing ourselves from one milestone to the next.
We’ve even allowed this “cult of adulthood”, as Bill Thomas terms it, to affect our childrearing. Our poor kids’ lives have been literally regimented into a dizzying series of programmed activities that emphasize motor and cognitive skills, while suppressing imagination and mindfulness.
It’s time to re-balance our own lives. No one needs play more than you and I.