Alaska is well-known for open spaces that make it possible for all kinds of outdoor activities. Anchorage alone has a few hundred parks, 11,000 acres of parkland, and more than 250 miles of trails and greenbelts. Alaska’s Physical Activity and Nutrition program partnered with the Anchorage Park Foundation to distribute a new map and guide so families can learn what parks are nearby, how to get there, and the types of play opportunities available.
The new Anchorage Playground Map and Inclusive Play Guide includes vibrant photos that highlight the park designs, giving kids a glimpse of the excitement they can expect there. Anchorage parks provide fun opportunities like sliding, climbing, spinning, swinging, and exploring nooks and towers. Some parks offer experiences for many senses, including musical play. The guide gives parents details they need to prepare for taking the family to the park. It mentions if the park has picnic tables and benches, if it’s close to woods or water, and if the playground equipment is designed for children of certain age ranges. Studying the map and guide together as a family gets everyone involved in planning the next adventure.
“My husband and I wanted to get the kids out, and this map gave us the ability to choose a park near our home and make a family day of it,” said Alyssa Marizan, a local mom of three young children. “Not only did the kids play, but we were able to be active with them and had a blast.”
Guiding families to nearby places for outdoor play can help them meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommendations that school-age children get 60 minutes of activity every day and adults get 150 minutes every week. Many Alaskans fall short of that daily and weekly recommended activity. A lack of physical activity can increase the chances of unhealthy weight gain, which is linked with serious diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Two out of three Alaska adults are overweight or obese, and one out of three Alaska kids is above a healthy weight. Taking the whole family to the park helps everyone be physically active and get closer to their activity goals.
The Anchorage Park Foundation continues to help build playgrounds designed with everyone in mind. While this new map lists all the parks in Anchorage, it gives special mention to parks that provide opportunities for children and adults of all abilities. These parks are often called “inclusive parks,” and they include playground equipment that allows children of all ages and abilities to play with their peers. These parks also have parking stalls that are Americans with Disabilities Act accessible.
“Climbing, swinging, sliding, spinning, these parks offer the best new ways to play,” said Beth Nordlund, Executive Director of the Anchorage Park Foundation. “Not only are they more accessible to all, they are also way more fun! These free guides are flying off our shelves, so please make sure to come get yours.”
While supplies last, the map is being distributed by the foundation and their inclusive play partners free of charge at park and recreational events around Anchorage. For more information about inclusive play and the maps, visit https://anchorageparkfoundation.org/programs/inclusiveplay.
Photographs courtesy of the Anchorage Park Foundation