Principals Build Playground at Pennsylvania Elementary School

Last Saturday, nearly 150 principals representing the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) came together to build a playground at Stonehurst Hills Elementary School in Upper Darby, Penn. The community service day was part of the 2017 National Principals Conference held in Philadelphia.

The playground was designed for students ages 5 to 12, and features the new GeoPlex™ climbing panels as well as various ground-level climbers, overhead ladders, and bridges and balancing activities. In addition to building the school playground, principals landscaped, painted and participated in other beautification projects at the school.

As you can see from the tweets, principals had a blast during the build. This is the ninth year that we’ve partnered with NAESP to build a playground at a deserving elementary school. Learn more about the NAESP Annual Conference and save the date: July 9-11, 2018 in Orlando, Fla.

Play shapes children into successful adults

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Children’s early experiences and the settings they inhabit play a powerful role in shaping the adults they will become. That’s according to a meta-study we recently commissioned in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development.

Our goal with the meta-study was to understand how children’s play behavior on school and community playgrounds contributes to whole-child health and development. The study aggregates and analyzes key findings from some of the most influential studies on children and play. Request a copy of the full research whitepaper at shapedbyplay.com.

We believe that play and playgrounds help children learn leadership, persistence, competition, bravery, support and empathy. And it’s play experiences that help shape kids into thinkers, dreamers and leaders. Watch our video below that brings the WHY
of what we do to life.

Guest Blog: City Parks Create Important Foundation for Youth

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We are proud to be members of the City Parks Alliance, which supports the creation, revitalization and sustainability of urban parks and green spaces. Today, we’re happy to have Catherine Nagel, executive director at the City Parks Alliance, as our guest blogger discussing Greater & Greener 2017, which is being hosted in the Twin Cities July 29 through Aug. 2.

As more people are moving back to urban areas, the importance of close-to-home parks is increasing–perhaps most for children. For those who don’t have a backyard to play in, the local park serves myriad functions: a portal to experiencing the natural world, a community hub where families and neighbors get to know each other, and a place for outdoor learning to help build skills of all kinds through organized activities. But beyond their role in recreation and social well-being, city parks also help grow local economies, create new transportation options, combat crime, and reduce environmental impacts such as storm water runoff. Urban planners, elected officials and community advocates recognize these benefits and are taking a fresh look at parks as an important part of civic infrastructure.

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Engaging youth in the outdoors can unleash their curiosity about nature, build confidence, and strengthen leadership skills, ultimately supporting careers in the sciences, recreation, conservation and elsewhere. Urban parks and park and recreation agencies are rich with opportunity to empower youth and help them succeed. At Greater & Greener 2017, our International Urban Parks Conference, we have created an entire track dedicated to the Parks and Youth Development. Speakers will focus on parks and programs that are providing close-to-home camping experiences, supporting new kinds of outdoor recreation, building literacy, strengthening advocacy around environmental and social change, and offering “green” job training and employment in the parks and recreation profession and related fields.

To help Greater & Greener, hosted by the Twin Cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, have a lasting impact beyond the sessions and knowledge sharing, Landscape Structures is sponsoring a Playground Build Volunteer Day to help kick off the conference. The brand new playstructure will be built in Central Village Park in Saint Paul, Minn., giving the community a place to recreate, socialize, and for the youth in the community to be #shapedbyplay!

CPA_resizedLandscape Structures is also sponsoring The Mayors Forum at Greater & Greener, which will explore with city leaders what it means to create equitable cities and what role public spaces play in building inclusive, vibrant, and sustainable communities. Speakers include: Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. Next City’s President, CEO and Publisher Tom Dallessio will moderate. Check out the full agenda with tours, field trips and sessions on youth engagement and register now.

Urban parks are dynamic institutions that play a vital role in the social, economic and physical well-being of America’s cities and their residents. The full benefits of parks in urban communities are only now being fully understood and measured. For most Americans, their closest park is a city park, and city parks provide an essential foundation that supports the next generation to grow and thrive–from childhood to adulthood.

Now welcoming preschoolers to join the band

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The joy of making music on the playground can now be enjoyed at any age. We’ve expanded the collection of Rhapsody® Outdoor Musical Instruments with six instruments that are a bit smaller and lower to the ground—sized just right for kids ages 2 to 5.

Rhapsody was originally introduced in January 2016, and has been a hit at playgrounds, community centers, schools, senior centers and more. That’s why we’ve added the junior Rhapsody instruments to the mix. This music playground activity is now ideal for
childcare centers, preschools and other early childhood facilities.

See below to learn more about the new junior-sized chimes, metallophones and drums:

Don’t forget… musical playgrounds welcome all ages and abilities! The original Rhapsody Outdoor Musical Instruments are perfect for kids and adults ages 5 and up. Add all 12 instruments to your play space to encourage multigenerational play.

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Mankato Downtown Kiwanis to create inclusive playground with Legacy of Play award

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A fourth grader who uses a wheelchair will soon get to play on the playground with her friends. Her story helped convinced a panel of judges to award the Mankato Downtown Kiwanis Club $25,000 worth of inclusive playground equipment in the Legacy of Play Contest, sponsored by Landscape Structures Inc. and Kiwanis International. The award will be used to develop the Fallenstein Playground, an all-inclusive playground where children and families of all abilities can develop, discover, laugh and experience the joy of play.

Mankato, 75 miles southwest of Minneapolis, is renowned for its great parks and trails, and offers breathtaking landscapes of rivers, lakes, ravines, bluffs, natural prairies and forested areas. With a population of nearly 41,000, Mankato offers small town living in a thriving regional center. The all-inclusive Fallenstein Playground will be located adjacent to Fallenstein Field, the fully accessible baseball field used by the Miracle League of North Mankato, in Caswell Park.

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The Mankato Downtown Kiwanis Club will complete its inclusive playground project on or around Kiwanis One Day in October 2018. Learn more about the project.

Summertime safety

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Summer is synonymous with outdoor fun. As the weather warms up and trips to the park and playground become more frequent, take steps to keep your children safe from the sun and heat.

Sunscreen in addition to lightweight clothing and a sun hat help protect against UVA and UVB rays. However, the best line of defense is by staying in the shade. When planning trips to the park, choose commercial playgrounds that integrate shade into the design. Our shade systems–SkyWays® and CoolToppers®–are designed to block up to 97 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays.

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During physical play at the playground, kids should have water available and should take a break regularly to stay hydrated. Our playground shade systems will also combat summer heat by keeping temperatures up to 30-degrees cooler. We even offer a shade option with a cool misting feature to help keep kids cool during the steamiest of play days.

In addition to providing protection from the summer sun and heat, the SkyWays and CoolToppers shade systems deliver a beautiful aesthetic to park, playground and recreation areas. Whether your goal is to shade a playground, dog park, pickleball courts or something entirely unique to your community, we have shade solutions to meet your needs. Contact us to learn more.

Shape kids’ lives with play

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Play shapes us. We believe this wholeheartedly at Landscape Structures, and that why we’ve launched the Shaped by Play Scholarship. The scholarships, available in amounts between $250 and $3,000, are for kids to use for camps, sports clinics, piano lessons, art classes and more… activities that will help build the leaders of tomorrow through play.

Eligible applicants* will be elementary, middle or high school students, and they must be nominated by a Kiwanis member, parks and recreation professional, or a school principal. Nominate kids in your community at playlsi.com/shapedbyplay.

We are now accepting applications for the Shaped by Play Scholarship, and the program will follow the below timeline:

  • June 1 – July 31: Application period
  • Aug. 7 – 18: Application review by external judges
  • Aug. 31: Winners announcement

Contact your local playground consultant with any questions about the Scholarship. In the meantime, find inspiration for your nomination by watching our video that brings the WHY of what we do to life.

*The Shaped by Play Scholarship is open to residents of the U.S. or Canada. Employees of Landscape Structures, Aquatix by Landscape Structures and rep organizations, and members of their immediate families are not eligible to participate and win.