FDR Park’s new pop-up play space is designed by children

A community-built play space

Construction officially began on Tuesday, July 12. A group of workers and volunteers gathered at the top of the hill at Clubhouse Lawn surrounded by plywood and power tools.

Noah Drury was one of them – he’s 12 and wants to be an architect. He had never worked with a drill, but he was eager to learn.

“I would like to learn how to use electrical equipment, like saws and all that,” he said. “I just think it’s good to know how to screw something into a wall.”

A log that will be used as a suspended balance beam or ‘ram’, as requested by the community during the FDR Park play space design process. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Alongside him were Tiny WPA employees Sky Chandler and Janine Wang, who supported volunteers and helped build. Wang, a carpenter and educator for the nonprofit’s Building Hero Project, said she was impressed by the natural objects, like trees, incorporated into the design.

“Play spaces shouldn’t be sterile,” she said. The natural design will allow children to be “a little more in touch with getting dirty” and serve as a reminder that the materials we use come from somewhere, Wang added.

The pop-up play space will complement FDR’s current playground, which is going nowhere.

Noah Drury uses a power tool on a wood project at FDR Park
Noah Drury, 12, learns to use power tools in the community play space built with Tiny WPA at FDR Park in South Philadelphia on July 12, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Volunteers can stop to help build on the days indicated below. No experience is required and all ages are welcome.

friday july 15
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Saturday July 16
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

From Monday July 18 to Wednesday July 20
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

“It’s a great opportunity to have fun, learn a new skill, connect with new people, and make a difference in this corner of Philadelphia,” Gilliam said.

The official opening of the play area will take place on Saturday July 23 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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