The Lorber Family Playground at Jackson Square Bringing the Power of Play to where it’s most needed

Boston, Mass– June 26, 2013- Boston Children’s Hospital Urban Renewal Committee and Injury Prevention Programs, with help from Boston Children’s Hospitaldoctors and donors, are partnering with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Jamaica Plain community to create The Lorber Family Playground at Jackson Square. This one-of-a-kind play space for Boston families. The project, which broke ground earlier this year in Jamaica Plain’s Jackson Square, is just steps away from Boston Children’s at Martha Eliot Health Center.

The Jackson Square playground represents years of development and planning led by Michael Lorber, Paul Bernon, Douglass Karp and Pat and Kathleen Scanlon of Boston Children’s Urban Renewal Committee, a group of experts in real estate development and volunteers who are committed to the hospital’s community mission. The site was carefully selected in collaboration with the DCR based on its central location in Jamaica Plain, its proximity to Boston Children’s at Martha Eliot Health Center and the need for a play space for the large number of young children in the surrounding community.

“Our hope is The Lorber Family Playground becomes a place for children and families to come together to have fun and enjoy this beautiful enriching new space,” said Lois Lee, Emergency Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Active play is an essential part of a healthy childhood and contributes to academic achievement and social skills.”

 The centerpiece of The Lorber Family Playground at Jackson Square will be an innovative type of play structure from the Netherlands. Although it has become popular throughout Europe, this 50-foot-long, 5-foot-wide, 10-foot-tall “Wall-holla” will be the first in the US. Inside, multiple levels of curving and twisting soft-coated platforms engage the mental and physical dexterity of children of all ages and physical abilities. The exterior walls are powder-coated steel gridwork offering utmost resistance to wear-and-tear and weather—all the while keeping children safe and in-view as they play freely. They can also enter and exit through various entry holes or an attached tube slide. Foot and handgrips will be affixed to the outside of the walls to create a safe but challenging rock-climbing wall.

Adjacent to the “Wall-holla” will be two handicap-accessible zip lines, a wheelchair-accessible merry-go-round, a set of swings, a four-square court, and three unique pieces of equipment called the “grass.” These 10-foot-tall steel poles resemble stalks of “cattails” commonly found in wetland areas—but these “cattails” come with a springy base that makes them perfect for grabbing hold of and going for a swing.

“I’m thrilled to have been a part of such an important initiative,” said Michael Lorber, Senior Vice President at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, Boston Children’s Hospital Board of Overseers member and Urban Renewal Committee member. “This incredible playground speaks to the mission of Boston Children’s Hospital and will provide a safe, innovative and engaging play area for children throughout the community.” 

Along the way, the team worked closely with local families, police, community leaders, city council members, state representatives and building experts to design a very unique playground. No detail has been overlooked and the playground makes use of an open design that keeps kids in plain view of parents and caregivers.

The safety of children is a key motivator for this project. Injury is the leading cause of death and disability for people under the age of 18 in the US, and injured children from local neighborhoods represent about 2,500 emergency room visits to Boston Children’s every year.

Studies show that kids who actively play outdoors have improved mental and physical health. They are less likely to be obese, decreasing the risk of diabetes and heart disease, an issue 40 percent of Boston Public School students face. Physical activity is also proven to lead to stronger academic achievement, with improved math, reading and writing test scores. It has been shown that children who play in this type of communal environment have higher levels of confidence and develop strong social skills.

The Lorber Family Playground at Jackson Square is one part of Boston Children’s mission to improve the health and well-being of the children and families in Boston’s local neighborhoods. For so many, the power of play can bring a brighter and healthier future.

Rob Graham

About Boston Children’s Hospital

Founded in 1869 as a 20-bed hospital for children, Boston Children’s Hospitalis the primary pediatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School and the largest provider of health care to Massachusetts children. In addition to 395 pediatric and adolescent inpatient beds and 228 outpatient programs, Boston Children’s houses the world’s largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries benefit both children and adults.More than 1,100 scientists, including seven members of the National Academy of Sciences, 13 members of the Institute of Medicine and 14 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Boston Children’s research community. For more information about the hospital