Importance of Play

posted September 13th, 2022 in Blog

by Candice Barter


Gym with kids

E4H’s experience with over 120 projects for children and adolescents and our commitment to evidence-based approaches to healthcare and behavioral health design, has led us to develop a deep understanding of the role of play in healing and learning.

Positive distraction and engagement can give children & adolescents a sense of control over their environment.  Providing spaces for both indoor and outdoor play is critical to healing environments for kids.  These spaces should allow for both group activity and for kids that need to remove themselves when overwhelmed.  Creating sensory zones that can be adapted to individual needs, provides an opportunity for self-calming and self-regulation.  These activity spaces can be outlets for stress as well as a way for kids to interact with the world in a controlled manner – practicing skills and exploring solutions.

Colors and material selections can take cues from biophilic design to establish a comforting, yet engaging environment for children, adolescents, and staff. Balancing over-stimulation with visual interest can provide the variation necessary to encourage growth. The goal is to provide an opportunity to become acclimated to neurotypical environments found in the outside world.

Design must mitigate risks of self-harm – both accidental and purposeful. E4H works alongside clinical teams to carefully review an environmental risk assessment ensuring that the spaces we are providing meet the requirements of unique patient populations and levels of oversight required.