Planning an Inclusive Splash Pad

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Splash pads are a great way to make aquatic play accessible. Even though splash pads may be accessible to those with differing abilities, this does not make them fully inclusive inherently. Designing bigger and more exciting splash pads does not necessarily make a splash pad more inclusive. In fact, bigger and more exciting often adds barriers for some individuals. Designing for inclusion requires extra consideration  in the design process, but typically very little consideration for extra budget or maintenance.

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Splash pads should be designed as an aquatic play environment comprised of features that maximize the sensory and cognitive stimulation for children of all physical and mental abilities and is designed to encourage all children to play together and with the same features. Play features that are wheelchair height accessible and adequate turn-around space between elements are important aspects to consider in design. Other considerations should be made for how children with autism or other sensory differences may approach such a space: is there a balance between intense and more gentle water play? How will the various sounds and sights affect those playing in this space?

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From the design of the splash pad feature, to the methods of accessing the site, be conscious of barriers to access and address them early in the design process. For instance, assure that there are adequate handicapped parking spaces and that the path from parking to the splash pad location does not contain any obstacles.

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All splash pads should be developed utilizing a rule of thumb for one child every 25 square feet of active water spray. Splash pads are an excellent opportunity for park agencies to develop safe play areas that encourage people of differing ages and abilities to experience water play.

To learn more about Splash Pad products, visit the Aquatix website.

Planning a Community Splash Pad: Goals and Development

Welcome back to the second installment of our educational series on how to create a community splash pad! The last post focused on items to be accomplished in the pre-planning stage. This week we will be focusing on the goals of the splash pad and its development.

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Goals

By creating a list of goals, planners and decision makers can refer to the objectives they set in the beginning to re-evaluate their choices to ensure they meet the goals they originally set out with. The goal of a Master Plan is to provide community residents exceptional open space, park land, facilities and programs to splash pad users.

The following goals and objectives are intended to provide an operational framework for future decisions related to provision of parks and recreation.

  • Create a Sense of Community and Belonging
  • Offer programming that is targeted to families and those residents without support services.
  • Celebrate the community through participation in festivals, community functions and events.
  • Support and encourage new developments to include areas for active and passive recreation.
  • Provide parks and recreation facilities that are of the highest quality, that preserve open space and history, are well maintained and that are accessible to all residents of the community.
  • To create a community of healthy residents by providing opportunities that promote and encourage active lifestyles.
  • Provide recreation programming and facility opportunities that meet the needs and interests of the entire community.
  • To use existing community resources efficiently and to demonstrate fiscal responsibility.
  • To build a city-wide system of parks connected by trails and greenways to provide both active and passive recreation opportunities.
  • To enhance the landscape character and aesthetics of parks to heighten the experience of the spray park user.
  • To increase the accessory services and facilities available to the park system use in the way of adequate restrooms, water fountains, concessions, shades areas, playgrounds, and other accessory services or facilities.

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Development

  • Clearly define the goals of the project (i.e. public health, revenue generation, community asset, etc.) and frame public discussions, budget numbers and designs in terms of stated goals.
  • Design the splash pad so that capacity aligns with projected use and revenue goals. Don’t cap users at a much lower number than the official capacity of their splash pad for safety.
  • Ensure access issues such as parking are considered early in the design process.
  • Plan for expansion and new features (i.e. install more ground sprays than will initially be used and buy water features that can be replaced or exchanged).
  • Explore opportunities to develop splash pads near other public amenities such as parks, pools, picnic areas and community centers.
  • Ensure adequate seating in shaded areas for adults supervising splash pad users.
  • Install mechanical and electrical equipment on concrete surfaces and insulated from dust and dirt.

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Important considerations during the planning process:

1.Physical Location

  • Within Community
  • Within Park or Recreation District
  • Proximity to similar neighboring facilities

2. Location and Availability of Parking

  • Is there sufficient parking?
  • Is there van or bus parking?
  • Is the parking shared with other activities?

3. Location and Availability of Restrooms and Concessions

  • Are restrooms included?
  • Are changing areas included?

4. Existing Utility Services (Water, Sanitary, Storm and Electrical)

  • Are existing utilities on site or nearby?

5. Nearby Amenities and Facilities (Playground, Athletic Fields, Mini Golf, Courts, etc.)

  • Are there nearby facilities that will complement the sprayground? Or negatively impact the sprayground?

6. Neighborhood Connectivity, Bicycle Routes

  • Connectivity to nearby regional bicycle or multi-use trail systems.

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To learn more about Aquatix splash pad and water play products, visit their website.

National Water Safety Month 2019

May 1st kicks off National Water Safety Month 2019! As temperatures climb in many parts of the world, participation in water play increases exponentially. Splash pads, water parks, and pools are a great option to cool down while developing key skills through play. In order to partake in these activities safely, check out these tips from the American Red Cross:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards
  • Always swim with a buddy
  • If you go boating, wear a life jacket
  • Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub
  • Actively supervise children whenever around the water
  • Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions
  • Keep toys not in use away from the water and out of sight
  • Reach or throw aid to distressed swimmers; don’t go

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Additional resources for water safety learning can be found through

The International Swimming Hall of Fame

Simple Steps Save Lives

The National Water Safety Month campaign is a joint effort of the American Red Cross, The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, the National Recreation and Park Association and the World Waterpark Association.

The annual event, which has been in existence for ten years, is designed to help prevent drowning and water-related illness and injuries.

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Commit to safety in water play with the “I’m a Safe Swimmer” pledge.

Go here for more details about National Water Safety Month.

Are Splash Pads the New Public Pool?

Geographical areas that experience their version of “warm weather”, whether that be a few scorching months of summer, or relatively mild temperatures nearly year round, are most likely familiar with the concept of a nearby cool-off zone. For many decades, that has meant a community pool where families and nearby residents could gather to seek relief from the sun and expend warm-weather energy.

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Public pools, however, have some inherent limitations. Members of the community most likely vary widely in age, from very young toddlers to teens and their parents, grandparents, and caregivers. As a result, the interests of these different ages are varied and require a more complex play experience. Younger children are able to be more adventurous at a splash pad than at a pool as they aren’t required to know how to swim or be a certain height in order to maintain a level of safety. Children of all abilities would have the opportunity to engage with splash pads, especially those from Aquatix® by Landscape Structures which are designed specifically to cater to different abilities. This is not always true for pools. Gentler water experiences like misting and bubbling water may entertain young guests while jets and waterfalls keep older children and teens busy and cool.

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Splash pads can also be beneficial when considering the cost and maintenance of the area compared to a pool. Adding a splash pad to a community area undoubtedly brings value to that area. They can be visually exciting and are more visible than the traditional swimming pool, attracting families to come and explore the community. They can be added to already existing facilities like parks to revitalize an area and create a destination location for repeat visitors.

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Generally, the initial investment of a splash pad is less than a swimming pool. Since they do not generate standing water, there is far less risk for drowning, negating the need for fencing, signage, and lifeguards which are both initial and ongoing costs to consider.

 

For cities where public pools are not a viable option, splash pads from Aquatix® by Landscape Structures can bring fun, value, and interest to an area that may otherwise have no water play. Children of all abilities and many ages are able to enjoy the benefits of water play while architects and designers are able to take more creative liberty in designing an area that is just as visually interesting as it is fun.

Pre-planning for your splash pad

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Splash pads have been dubbed the new public pools, popping up in cities all over the country. The appeal of splash pads is deeply rooted in their numerous benefits. Splash pads offer entertainment and value that is attractive to local governments, task forces, fundraising groups, financial contributors, property owners, citizens, visitors and kids.

So, where do you start? Everyone in your splash pad conversations has a stake in the endeavor. Therefore, it’s important that you review several of the pre-planning considerations before moving forward. Use the tips below to help set the stage for a successful project and a positive experience for everyone involved:

  1. Location. It’s said that “location is everything”, and it’s the first consideration in your pre-planning for a splash pad. Having a visible location will heighten use. The more visible it is, the more the destination is able to market itself.
  2. Permits and zoning. Splash pads are installed on both public and private land. Common places include city parks, private residential associations, private campgrounds and public parks; all of which have unique zoning requirements.
  3. Space and parking. Making sure the location will provide enough space for your design is important. Not only do you need adequate space for the splash pad itself, but you also need space for the mechanical equipment. Additionally, most municipalities require designated and/or a certain number of parking spaces for these type of amenities.
  4. Water table. When deciding on your location, be sure to check on the below-ground water level. If the splash pad will be using a recirculation system, it will require a buried water reservoir and the water table will play a key factor.
  5. Sidewalks and bathrooms. Once you’ve got your potential site selected, you’ll want to check codes for what type of bathrooms are required and how close they need to be. In some cases, you may be able to utilize existing bathrooms with the addition of a connecting paved sidewalk.

Aquatix can help you with all your pre-planning splash pad considerations and help guide you through the entire process. Go here to read more, and then contact us to get started on a design.

 

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Design Matters. Play Matters More.

We design playstructures to complement their surroundings. But more than that, we design them to complement childhood. Every aesthetic choice is also a choice for fun, for growth, for learning, for exploration. All the things that make play part of shaping better adults. And that’s what really matters.

2019 Playground Equipment Catalog

You’ll find everything you need to complete your play environment. From new products to featured designs, individual components and fitness equipment, we’ll ensure your play space is everything you imagine and more. Browse our 2019 Playground Catalog, then request a copy.

2019 SkyWays Catalog

Give kids and families much-needed heat and sun protection while visiting any play, rest or activity area. From small to big shade, decorative to themed shade, we have flexible and stylish options for everywhere people like to gather. Browse the SkyWays® Shade Products virtual catalog, then request a copy.

2019 Aquatix Catalog

Our imaginative designs continue to advance the world of dynamic water events—achieving new levels of chilling thrills, challenging interactive games and inventive water-based activities. Invite kids and families of all ages and abilities to immerse themselves in the brilliance of an Aquatix® water experience. Browse the 2019 Aqua Play Catalog, then request a copy.

Continuous education from Landscape Structures and Aquatix

Are you beginning to plan your continuing education for 2019? We can help! We are an authorized provider of continuing education credits from the International Association for Continuous Education and Training (IACET) and the Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System™ (LA CES). That means we can help keep your parks and recreation department and landscape architects up-to-date on their requirements.

Even better, we have a team of expert speakers that are available to present on valuable playground and aquatics information during a local conference, in your office or during a customer visit to our headquarters in Minnesota. From inclusive play and spray play to designing safe splash play and fitness-focused environments to evidence-based landscape and playground design, there are sessions that will meet a wide variety of needs.

Learn more about playground-related CEUs, and check out the new aqua play sessions available from Aquatix.