Connecting Kids to the Outdoors

A part of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, the Southside trail runs for 6.6 miles along the Monongahela River and Southside Riverfront Park.

The Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative and Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy are getting kids out of the house and closer to nature, all while having fun outdoors.

Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative knows that children learn best through playing—particularly outside. That is why they joined forces with the City of Pittsburgh to install a new playground in Hazelwood in the first wave of the neighborhood’s redevelopment.

Like Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto says: “play is an important component of childhood well-being and achievement. It is also essential for our community health and economic vitality.” Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood is being revitalized, which is why incorporating play is so important.

Volunteers install the KaBOOM! Playground in Hazelwood, courtesy of the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative.

Volunteers install the KaBOOM! Playspace in Hazelwood, courtesy of the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative.

The Hazelwood Play Trail will be a focal point of the community, making sure that the neighborhood develops in a way that includes even the youngest residents. The Hazelwood Play Trail connects already existing “playful features” in Hazelwood with new playgrounds. The newest edition was the KaBOOM! Playspace built in September 2016 and funded by the Heinz Endowments.

Another group in Pittsburgh connecting children to nature is the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, with their program Pittsburgh Parks Rx. Together with the Children’s hospital of UPMC and Lawrenceville United, the program works with schools, children’s communities, and their healthcare providers to get kids outside more often. The program’s main focus is in promoting the physical, emotional, and behavioral health of Pittsburgh’s children through outdoor play.

In addition to local schools, Pittsburgh Parks Rx includes family doctors and clinics and community organizations. Pittsburgh Parks Rx provides the resources these individuals and groups need to find all-season activities in parks near them. It also connects them with other kids in their neighborhood and gives them ongoing support through the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

Both programs are leading the way towards a healthier and happier Pittsburgh. Getting kids outdoors improves their health and connects them to nature in a way impossible indoors. Having fun in nature is the first step in creating life-long connections to the environment.



Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative: 

Cara Ciminillo,
Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children
412.421.3889 x 103

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy:

Scott Roller,
Senior Manager of Communications and Creative
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
412.682.7275 x220 or 412.725.0023 (mobile)