Worcester Comprehensive Child Care Services Playground

A tale of a community coming together for young children.

In the beginning there was an uneven patch of concrete.

More importantly, there was a will to give the children who attend the center a playground where they could develop gross motor, cognitive, social and emotional skills.

Massachusetts was on the forefront of outdoor play for children. In 1821 an outdoor German inspired “gymnasium” was built in Salem. This was followed in 1886 with the construction of sand gardens for children in Boston. In 1907 the Playground Association of America was established. The association recommended exercise equipment and plenty of space for unstructured play. In 1909 Massachusetts led the country by enacting legislation requiring all towns over 10,000 have a community playground. In 1928 the National Recreation Association was established. Their guidelines indicated a need for sandboxes, climbers, and slides. Why all this attention to child’s play?

Four stages of play:

  1. Functional: using large motor skills to explore cause and effect
  2. Constructive: using small motor skills to manipulate objects with the goal of building or creating something
  3. Dramatic/Sociodramatic: role play individually at first, and then with two or more children as comprehension of language and symbols develops
  4. Games with Rules: emphasis on skills, com- petition and interaction as empathy develops

From Sara Smilansky, early childhood researcher

Benefits of Play

  • Physical Development: coordinates sensorimotor development; a natural preventative for childhood obesity
  • Academics: Develops imagination, creativity, and problem solving skills. Play provides language-rich, hands on experiences with real-life physics (earth, water, wind, and gravity).
  • Social Emotional Development: Imaginative play increases collaboration, cooperation, empathy, im- pulse control, and reduces aggression.

From the Alliance for Childhood

Economically disadvantaged children in our community are often denied the privilege of playing outside. Fear of their children’s safety and lack of quality playground environments cause many parents to keep their children at home. Many hours in front of the television can lead to developmental delays and childhood obesity. 

Special Thanks To Our Funders

  • KaBoom!
  • Daniels Foundation
  • Fuller Foundation
  • Albert Rice Foundation
  • UnumProvident Corporation
  • Kiwanis Club of Worcester
  • Fallon Community
  • Health Plan

A million thanks to our volunteers!!!

  • Paul Ricciardi
  • Louie Gentile
  • Jeremiah’s Inn
  • Clark University
  • Youth Build
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • South High School
  • Regional Environmental Council
  • Worcester Roots

Special Thanks to Our In-Kind Sponsors!!!

  • Healy’s Haulin’
  • Blue Jeans Pizza
  • Price Chopper
  • Regional Environmental Council
  • Worcester Roots
  • In the beginning there was an uneven patch of concrete.
  • Edward Street Child Services convened community members to raise funds, in-kind donations and volunteers to turn this space into a playground with state-of-the-art, developmentally appropriate equipment for the children at the Worcester Comprehensive Child Care Services facility in Main South.
  • Students from Youth Build (Training Resources of America) unload the equipment.
  • Unpacking begins.
  • While at the same time the site was being prepared
  • Could this ever become a playground?
  • Preassembly
  • More Preassembly
  • A well deserved lunch break.
  • Thank you Steve Hopkins and Blue Jeans Pizza!
  • A beginning is made.
  • The rain didn’t stop us.
  • Checking to make sure everything is level and fastened properly.
  • Molly kept us all in line!
  • Students from the College of the Holy Cross helped as well. We can now see it taking shape.
  • Paul Ricciardi and the A Team from South High School
  • Mulch happens!
  • Mulch never ends!
  • As the last of the mulch is raked into place, the sun comes out.
  • We have a playground.
  • Congressman McGovern cuts the ribbon.
  • Welcome to the Paul Ricciardi Playground!
Project Status: 
Past Programs