Designing playgrounds for happier, healthier kids

Sarah Konradi Headshot

Sarah Werner Konradi is a landscape architect working at the intersection of design, conservation, and health. As Program Director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Early Childhood Health Outdoors program, Sarah works with underserved communities to re-envision outdoor spaces used by children and families, creating playgrounds that support child development and connection to the natural world. Sarah lives with her German husband, two children, and a cat named Chuck Norris. She is an amateur meteorologist, obsessively following the weather forecast.

 

We, as humans, need to be wrong sometimes in order to build critical thinking skills, and this talk nails it. It’s so aligned with the rationale of the nature play movement (environments and curriculum allow for children of all abilities to approach play and learning from their unique starting points) and really resonates with me.

What sparks your curiosity?

I was born curious and haven’t slowed down! I’m constantly asking “why?” and trying to solve problems using design thinking– ideating and testing multiple solutions. I look at places and spaces, the outdoor built environment, with a critical eye, always imagining how to rethink the way we shape the places where we live, work, and play to improve the quality of our lives.

What is the most uncommon experience, practice, belief, viewpoint, or habit that you have, and how has that shaped you as a person?

During graduate school for landscape architecture, I had my son (now 9 years old), and while on outdoor excursions with him recognized the lack of developmentally stimulating playgrounds—most/all are rubber, plastic, sterile, and boring. I realized that designers could shift the societal norm and actually create dynamic, engaging playgrounds where kids could do the things that I grew up doing…messing around in nature.

Hobbies / Passions / Fun Facts

I have a ninja cat named Chuck Norris, I’m obsessed with following the weather forecast and my life plan backup is meteorology, my husband is German and we joke that we could have our own reality show called “Lost in Translation”.

Website: nwf.org/echo

LinkedIn: Sarah Konradi