Celebrating Kiwanis One Day 2014

Tomorrow is Kiwanis One Day 2014, an event when Kiwanis members unite to complete hands-on community service projects around the globe. To celebrate all the work Kiwanis members do on One Day, and throughout the year, we’re reflecting on how our partnership has already allowed us to make a difference in many communities.

After two days of construction, two new school playgrounds were ready for students in Vancouver.

In June 2013, we worked together with Kiwanis and their collegiate service organization, Circle K International (CKI), to install playground equipment at two elementary schools in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Additionally, we awarded $25,000 in playground equipment to the Iola Kiwanis Club in Iola, Kansas, as part of our Make a Difference Through Play contest. The club will install the community’s first inclusive playground this month!

Kids in Iola, Kan., will benefit from the inclusive playground the Iola Kiwanis intends to build with the $25,000 award.

Learn more about our partnership with Kiwanis International, and connect with your local Kiwanis club to learn about volunteer opportunities and more.

Netplex is what’s next in play

Earlier this year, we introduced Netplex™, a new net-based playstructure that challenges kids with an experience completely different from those offered by typical play structures. Climbing cables have been a popular playground material, and we’ve used them in many of our playstructures for more than 10 years. Now, using our patent-pending clamping system, Netplex takes a seemingly unbroken length of cable from the inner core of the playstructure to the outer posts and all the way around.

Netplex is great for community parks.

Netplex offers kids the challenge needed for healthy development into self-assured adults. The net-based playstructure challenges kids’ balance, motor planning and strategic thinking skills and gives the opportunity for graduated challenge—kids will stay low to the ground on more secure cables at first, and when they’ve mastered that they challenge themselves by going higher and engage new muscles.

Netplex is a great playstructure design for elementary school playgrounds.

Learn more about Netplex here, and see it in action in the video below.

Supporting inclusive play

Last week, we were honored at the Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Foundation’s 1st Annual Banquet of Champions. Held at the Inverness Hotel and Conference Center in Englewood, Colo., the event brought together people to help raise funds for research towards understanding behavioral and brain differences in children with SPD. Additionally, the Foundation celebrated individuals and organizations that have supported the SPD Foundation.

Proud to be recognized by the SPD Foundation for our commitment to inclusive play.

We were presented the Champion of Partnership award for partnering with the SPD Foundation to bring “The World’s Best Sensory Playground” to the STAR Center. The inclusive and sensory-stimulating playground equipment is used as a therapy tool for kids receiving treatment at the STAR Center.

Dr. Miller created an inclusive playground with many sensory-rich activities at the STAR Center.

We’re proud to work with the SPD Foundation and support their research in sensory processing disorders, and honored by this recognition. Learn more about the SPD Foundation and the STAR Center, and go here to read more about our commitment to inclusive play.

Honoring champions of inclusive play

On Saturday, March 8, Shane’s Inspiration held its annual Gala Celebration at the Beverly Hills Hotel Crystal Ballroom. Themed An Evening of Motown, attendees came together to help raise funds for Shane’s Inspiration and their inclusion programming in addition to celebrating three amazing champions of inclusive play.

Shane's Inspiration's Annual Gala celebrated champions of inclusive play.

Former Vice President of Ecuador Lenin Moreno was presented with the Inspiration Award for his work in advancing social inclusion and bringing the first inclusive playground to Ecuador. The 8,880 square-foot inclusive playground, which opened on Nov. 22, 2013, features playground equipment specifically designed to promote integration among children of all abilities.

Additionally, Universal Studios Hollywood’s Discover a Star Foundation received the Community Leadership Award for its work of providing financial assistance to neighboring nonprofits linked to children’s causes and homeless intervention, and Richard D. Kessler was honored with the Humanitarian Award for his strong community involvement and support of Shane’s Inspiration.

Congratulations to all of these champions of inclusive play! Learn more about Shane’s Inspiration, their social inclusion programming and lots more by visiting shanesinspiration.org.

Guest Blog: Preparing for our community build

In June, we awarded the Iola Kiwanis club in Iola, Kan., $25,000 in playground equipment as part of the Make a Difference Through Play contest. We’re happy to share another update from Michael Ford, member of Iola Kiwanis and community resource officer for the Iola Police Department.

The design for the Iola Kiwanis club's inclusive playground.

Our last update was in mid-December, and plans for our inclusive playground have been moving fast since then. Our fundraising got a big boost at the end of 2013 through a couple of grants and individual donors, and now we’re moving quickly towards the installation.

We’re hoping to install the playground on April 5-6, during Kiwanis International’s One Day—weather depending, of course. And will build the playground with the help of community volunteers. Groups within the community have come to us to ask if they can participate. We’ve got volunteers from a local bank and church, the police station, the M.O.M.S. group as well as their friends and family, and the Iola Kiwanis Club. Even more than helping with the manual labor, people are offering to help with lunches and even the Girl Scouts are hoping to be there to help cheer on the rest of the volunteers.

Our playground consultant from ATHCO, L.L.C. and the Iola Parks and Recreation Department have helped coordinate the installation, and we’re targeting a two-day build. Following the build, we’ll tackle the site work and surfacing installation. Everyone in Iola—from kids to adults—is excited to see this project come together and looking forward to playing on the inclusive playground this spring.

More to explore while using less

After observing kids at a local childcare facility, we realized that 2- and 3-year-olds are reaching specific developmental milestones. They’re on the move (to say the least), and are stimulated by things that move! That’s why we created Smart Play: Motion, a new playstructure with lots of moving parts that’s scaled just right for developing toddlers and preschoolers. Kids get plenty of developmentally appropriate challenges with 16 interactive play events.

Smart Play: Motion 3D

From a shape-and-fit table to a sensory station, every bit of Smart Play: Motion has some aspect of interactivity to it. Instead of creating just a handrail, our designers incorporated moveable puzzle pieces to create more engagement. And there’s a race car track that encourages cooperative play and interaction. Even more, this compact playstructure is completely accessible to welcome children of all abilities.

Smart Play: Motion photo

Smart Play: Motion not only provides smart design to help create smart kids, but it’s manufactured with a smart use of materials. The manufacturing of Smart Play: Motion—similar to the manufacturing process of all our playground products—is focused on getting as many components as possible out of the smallest amount of material.

Learn more about Smart Play: Motion, and check out the video of this playground design below.

Helping advance the Value of Play

Play Coalition

Earlier this week, we were in Clemson, S.C., for the U.S. Play Coalition’s 2014 Conference on the Value of Play. This marks the fifth year of the Conference, and we’re proud to say that we’ve sponsored the event since its inception. The Conference on the Value of Play brings together advocates for play—ranging from parents, parks and recreation professionals, educators, landscape architects, healthcare professionals and many more—to help advance the discussion and elevate the importance of play for people of all ages.

Learn more about the U.S. Play Coalition including how to get involved in promoting the value of play throughout life.