Sergeant Ryan Russell Parkette
Equipment by Playworld
Although a 77 isn’t an especially high score, the tiny playground at the Sergeant Ryan Russell Parkette might be one of the best options around for the three-and-under set.
When your kids are tiny – still wobbling more than walking, or doing that adorable bounce-run that only really little kids do – it can be a bit nerve-wracking to have them share the playground with bigger kids. We’ve all had those slow-motion moments: when you realize that the direction your toddler is toddling is taking them straight into the swing path of an oblivious 8-year-old. When a group of tweens playing tag don’t realize that their knees are up to your own kid’s nose.
No such worries at Sergeant Ryan Russell Parkette. The equipment is not challenging enough to entertain the bigger kids, and with the enormous Ramsden Park playground so close by, it’s likely that some older neighbourhood kids even know this one exists.
This playground is perfectly suited for little ones. The equipment is by Playworld, a supplier whose equipment I don’t think I’ve ever seen in anywhere else in Toronto. The main structure stands on insect-like legs, and each leg ends at a panel with a different interactive, often tactile, element: different textures, things that spin, things that make sounds, things that engage toddlers at their own eye level. There’s even a race car game, in which participants spin an arrow and move their piece forward towards a finish line. (The “cars” were unfortunately missing on our visit, but we substituted wood chips.)
There are a few other scattered elements, but none of them move too quickly or present much of a hazard to kids who are still, y’know, learning to walk. The fence around the perimeter is also good peace-of-mind for parents, and the freight train tracks a literal stone’s throw away provide the occasional exciting rumble.
As my own two kids, 6 and 3, enjoyed the equipment, a tiny little one came along with her mother. Probably not even two, the adorable kid was wearing her first bike helmet; in fact, had been wearing it all day, according to the mother, because it was new that day.
The kid plonked herself down at the top of the slide and watched my kids zip down with the kind of reverence that little kids have for slightly bigger kids. I suddenly realized that as small as my kids still are, they’re not that small anymore. A lump formed in my throat, and thankfully at that moment a freight train came past to distract me from the passage of time.