A few weeks ago, I stopped by Alice Byrne Elementary School to talk about opinion with the second-grade classes, led by Mrs. Kate Hazen and Mrs. Diana Spratt. 

We discussed why personal opinion is important, and why we are so fortunate to be able to express our opinions in the U.S. Then, we talked about current events, such as using cell phones while driving.

It was fascinating to hear their thoughts, and to realize that even at the ages of 7 and 8, they recognized the concerns of driving while distracted.

At the end, I invited the students to write some letters to the editor on a specific topic. The question I posed to them was, “In your opinion, what type of improvements would you like to see at the Castle Park, to make the park even better?”

About a week ago, I received their responses, and frankly, they are awesome. And what better resource for ideas for the Stewart Vincent Wolfe Creative Playground than the kids who play there?

Some focused on making the castle a little more adventurous, with mazes, roller coasters and water features, or, as Jasmin and Grace suggested, even a new pool.

Some kids had more practical concerns on hand, which really impressed me, because they were thinking outside of just pure fun. Those ideas included first aid stations, closer bathrooms and a play area designed to allow special needs children to join in the fun. Mary suggested a safety room, “because if there is an emergency all the people can go in the safety room, so no one gets hurt.”

A few kids had their parents’ comfort in mind, suggesting a yoga station or couches for comfort.

Some, like Joey and Elliott, suggested adding music, including two requests for hip-hop or perhaps a disco!

Others weighed what had been there previously, and thought of ways to build the park better, with calls for more tire swings, more swings, more slides and more things to climb. Several, including Isabella, requested a space to play foursquare, noting, “it is fun and you can get exercise.”

And not surprisingly, many wanted to keep the park safe for the future, suggesting security guards and more cameras. Briana noted the cameras would be especially helpful just in case the security guard falls asleep, while Natalie pointed out that with more cameras, we could see who burned down the park.

Too often, we overlook kids’ opinions, and sometimes, we fail to include them in the conversation with the adults. But the reality is, they have much to share, and their minds often go in creative directions we might not otherwise see. Plus, involving them now in current events conversations will help them shape a more global outlook that can only benefit them going forward.

On today’s Opinion page, we’re dedicating the Letters to the Editor space to the second graders of Alice Byrne, with a special thank you to their teachers, Mrs. Kate Hazen and Mrs. Diana Spratt for bringing this project to fruition!

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