Melissa Pellicci could not have predicted that her children’s book ‘Best Friends Forest’ would become a bestseller, and we bet she didn’t predict that her book would go on to inspire, of all thing, playgrounds. Through her work in therapy, Melissa Pellicci discovered that children stop believing in the positives and start to mistrust the things around them. The book is focused on helping children to regain that positive outlook – by using nature and all the wonderful things within it.
The basic premise of Best Friends Forest is that the main character walks through this wonderful enchanted forest. The main character is a ten year old girl and she transforms everything she encounters, bringing playfulness and kindness to the forest and its inhabitants. Through this idea, of good happening through friendship and play, Pellicci wanted to translate this into real life.
This became the Best Friends Forest Foundation – charitable endeavour which wants to promote human kindness through play, at the same time as repopulating the world with more forests and trees. The Best Friends Forest Foundation Playgrounds aims to build a beautiful green space where the young and the old can interact in a positive way. The playground has replicated many different aspects of the book such as the beautiful Mother Earth, Scaredy Cat, happy looking trees and a cuddly spider. The incorporation of greenery is one of the most important aspects of the Best Friends Forest Playground so the playgrounds utilise the trees around them, making sure they are involved in the playground, rather than just being on the outskirts.
The aim is for the playgrounds to go international, with playgrounds being built all over the world. They want to use funding from grants and the government and local councils – with the idea of creating more communities in the area. One of the ideas that have been discussed so far is including Wi-Fi in the playground, and incorporating iPads into the design. The designers envision children from all over the world being able to FaceTime one another, while playing in the playground. This idea is that the whole world becomes part of the community of people interacting positively with one another.
The playground projects in various communities around the world also want to encourage volunteers to help build the playgrounds – further encouraging people to get together as one and create positive memories and behaviours that will bring together the community. The Best Friends Forest Playgrounds want to include everyone in the community, including those with disabilities who may not normally be able to join in with normal play activities. To get over this, they have designed Buddy Benches, which are made to incorporate adults and children in wheelchairs, children on the Autism Spectrum and those with hearing or vision difficulties. The Best Friends Forest Playground wants everyone to feel at home and encourage positive vibes and great feelings for everyone. Developing these memories will allow children to see the positives in nature, and ensure that these feelings last them long into adulthood.