09-07-21 | Department

A Conversation with BCI Burke Company

Featuring Sarah Lisiecki, Marketing Communications & Education Specialist

Tell us about intergenerational play.
Intergenerational play is bringing people of all ages into the same space for play. It's adults playing with their children or grandchildren, it's neighbors meeting in an outdoor fitness space for exercise and fun and it's teenagers mentoring younger children in fitness, music or play. Generations can learn from each other and, studies show, that children who have contact with adults through play display higher levels of language and problem-solving skills. It's also a positive experience for the elderly promoting relaxation, reducing stress, encouraging physical movement and helping to maintain cognitive skills. This is all great. But there's more. As a society we are stuck in a cycle of trying to do too much and always feeling like it isn't enough. Play can help that. No, it won't change societal norms overnight. But it is shown to reduce anxiety and make us forget about our never-ending "to-do" lists at least for a little while.

How does having spaces for intergenerational play help communities?
Keeping people moving is HUGE. With obesity rates rising amongst children and adults and an increased amount of time spent on electronics, there is a heightened focus on physical fitness for all people. There is also the equity aspect - gym memberships are expensive and finding childcare may be a challenge. Placing fitness areas outside can help children and adults have access to exercise opportunities that everyone ages five and up can participate in. Outdoor fitness not only increases equity and access but it offers the opportunity for adults to model healthy habits for children and help them develop Physical Literacy, the ability to move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person. Healthy habits that are developed in childhood will translate into healthier habits in adulthood.


Having places to gather outdoors provides a sense of community and ownership of public spaces. Communities with public greenspaces are healthier overall with lower rates of obesity and smoking and higher property values and graduation rates. These added benefits provide a return on investment for greenspaces that every one can appreciate and understand.

What types of products would you recommend that encourage intergenerational engagement?
Outdoor Musical Instruments bring people together using the universal language of music and are inherently inclusive for all ages and abilities. Adding seating for resting, socializing and relaxing that's inside the playspace or playground area instead of on the perimeter fosters natural conversation, learning and engagement while providing a comfortable spot for caregivers to sit. Outdoor fitness equipment has the added benefit of bringing people together for exercise and fun while providing a healthy, family-friendly activity. Bringing intergenerational play into your space isn't limited to new environments - even an existing playspace can benefit from just a few small additions to attract people of varying ages to the space.

Sarah Lisiecki - Bio
As a Marketing, Communications & Education Specialist, Sarah combines a passion for play, the outdoors and movement with years of marketing and speaking experience. She studied Communications and Political Science at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, holds numerous fitness instructor certifications and obtained her Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) certification. As an advocate for play as a critical part of development, she serves on the Steering Committee of the US Play Coalition and presents at a variety of conferences, Lunch and Learns and events. She spends her spare time hiking, running, biking and climbing with loved ones and of course, her three rescue dogs while the cat keeps the homestead safe.


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