#OnAssignment: Revitalizing playgrounds for kids and families in Houston

By Jane Park Woo, Deputy Director for Too Small to Fail, and Toral Sindha, Regional Director for Clinton Health Matters Initiative, Houston

This post is part of a recurring series of perspectives on the impact of our work by staff and partners of the Clinton Foundation.

Playgrounds provide wonderful opportunities for parents to bond with their children and for neighborhoods to enjoy positive community interaction. Yet, communities across the country lack access to green space and family-friendly outdoor environments.

As part of the Clinton Foundation’s ongoing work to improve the health of communities and promote early childhood development, Too Small to Fail and the Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI) recently unveiled a revitalization of the Burnett Street Park playground in Houston.

Before (left) and after (right) pictures of Burnett Street Park playground, which was revitalized with messaging to encourage parents and children to talk, read, and sing about healthy foods, physical activity, and other child-friendly topics.

The playground, located within walking distance for children and families in Near Northside, was generously donated by Landscape Structures, Inc. (LSI), a leading commercial playground manufacturing company. Too Small and Landscape Structures first partnered through the Clinton Global Initiative in 2015 to announce a commitment to build new “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” themed playgrounds across the country.

Burnett Street Park Playground is Too Small’s 26th “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” playground and, due to its partnership with CHMI, its first early health and physical activity-themed playground in the nation.

The play area features colorful panels and signage with prompts encouraging parents and children to talk, read, and sing about healthy foods, physical activity, and other child-friendly topics together. Research shows that these types of simple, everyday parent-child interactions can boost brain development and have a lifelong positive impact.

One of our favorite moments during the ribbon cutting ceremony was hearing the sounds of children laughing, playing, and running throughout the playground. The graphics on the panels not only sparked conversations but also fun, playful games like “peek-a-boo” and “hide-and-go seek”!

Houston Council Member Karla Cisneros joins families and children at the opening of the “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, and Sing” playground.

Houston Council Member Karla Cisneros, representing District H, participated in the opening by delivering remarks and leading a read aloud of nutrition-themed books with young children. Too Small and CHMI also distributed copies of Scholastic’s “At the Farmer’s Market” books for each child to take home. Additionally, the Houston Public Library was on-site to offer books to residents and children from their pop-up mobile library.


This project highlights a unique collaboration between Too Small, CHMI, LSI, and the City of Houston to meet families where they are to promote children’s early health and language development.

This project highlights a unique collaboration between Too Small, CHMI, LSI, and the City of Houston to meet families where they are to promote children’s early health and language development. Because of this partnership — and community involvement from the University of Houston, Mayor’s Office, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Avenue CDC, Healthy Living Matters and the CHMI Built Environment Workgroup — our hope is that Burnett Street Park will serve as a model for additional neighborhood parks in Houston, and around the country.