Guest Post by Lauri Doody
Before I had my son, Ryan, I thought of Canton as a playground for adults. Bars and restaurants littered every corner of the neighborhood I live in, and I couldn't imagine how children fit in. I assumed that once we started a family, we would pick up and move to the suburbs.
However, after Ryan was born in October 2007, I began noticing that there were just as many families as single twentysomethings scattered through the neighborhoods of the city. Sometimes I even thought there might be more. Everywhere I went, I noticed moms pushing jogging strollers, families walking hand in hand to eat dinner in the square, and kids playing catch at Patterson Park.
Once my son was mobile, we started venturing out to local playgrounds and I realized that the city was also one giant playground for kids! We began frequenting these playgrounds on weekend mornings and late afternoons - from Patterson Park to the Thames Street playground to Dypski Park. But the one that we keep going back to, time after time, is the playground at Hampstead Hill Academy.
Ryan and I both love going there for many reasons. It is close enough that we can walk without putting him in a stroller. It is small enough that I can easily keep an eye on him without being on top of his every move. The play structure is safe and manageable for his age and skill level. And when he tires of the slides, suspension bridge, tunnel and monkey bars, we step down into the schoolyard where he can run free to his heart's content, burning off energy along the way. It is a space that we think of as our own backyard. We have been known to bring his scooter, motorized 3 wheel vehicle, soccer ball, and street hockey sticks and ball, to take advantage of the wide open space. We have introduced our favorite playground to local friends as well as out of town visitors.
I think part of the reason I like it so much is also that it is part of a school, and a great school at that. It is a reminder to me that there are education options in the city for families who choose to stay. I have even been known to crawl through the tunnel and run over the suspension bridge with Ryan, and the this reminds me that Canton can be a playground for both kids and adults!
Lauri Doody has lived in Baltimore for the past 11 years, first in Federal Hill, then Brewer's hill, then settling in Canton where she has lived for the past 6 years with her husband, Tim and son, Ryan, 3 1/2.