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Playground Movement, U.S. History

In the 21st century, children’s playgrounds are ubiquitous across the United States. Play and space for play are viewed as essential to childhoods, even as a child’s right. This association between play and children is rarely questioned, making it a compelling rationale for fund-raising and creation of nonprofits focused on saving children considered to be at risk of suffering the loss of experiencing childhoods without adequate space for play. However, few recognize how relatively recent this commonsense association between play, playgrounds, and childhood is. In the United States, play and play space were not viewed as essential for children until the late 19th century when the playground movement, one of many child-focused reform efforts of this time period, began. The playground movement in the United ...

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