Case Study: Honoring a life cut short

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Client: Madison Claire Foundation, Woodbury, Minn.

Designers: Gabriel Cotten, Landscape Structures playground designer

Goal: After the loss of their daughter, Madison, Dana and Dave Millington wanted to create an inclusive playground to honor Madison’s short life while also delivering a space for families of all abilities to gather and experience “normal” activities.

Solution: After getting input from the rehabilitation team at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital and talking to parents of children with disabilities, Dana and the Madison Claire Foundation’s Board of Directors broadened their idea of inclusive play to account for as many different situations as possible.

The inclusive playground design is fully ramped and includes many sensory-stimulating activities including a double ZipKrooz®, Sway Fun® glider, Cozy Dome®, We-saw™, Sensory Play Center®, OmniSpin® spinner, Roller Table and Oodle® Swing. Even more, there is a custom sensory tunnel, which is the highlight of the inclusive play design. The plum tunnel, with its star cutouts and marbles, invites intrigued visitors to step inside. Once inside, it’s a kaleidoscope of light and colors as the movement of the sun casts colorful stars on the opposite wall.

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Read more about how Madison’s Place has created a space for families to create lasting and happy memories.

PROJECT INCLUSIVE Playground open for play

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We’re excited to share that the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa, Ill., the 2015 winner of the Legacy of Play Contest, celebrated the grand opening of its PROJECT INCLUSIVE playground on Saturday, Oct. 15. The event brought together children and families of all abilities, and it’s just the first of many future play dates. PROJECT INCLUSIVE Playground features a ramped playstructure with various sensory-stimulating activities as well as freestanding play components like the Sway Fun® glider, OmniSpin® spinner, We-saw™, Roller Table™ and more.

Ottawa, Ill., is home to more than 18,500 people, and 13 percent of the community’s children live with a disability. Congratulations to the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa and everyone that was involved with this amazing inclusive playground project!

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Kiwanis Club of Poplar Bluff wins inclusive playground equipment from Legacy of Play® Contest

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We’re excited to announce that children and families with special needs in Poplar Bluff, Mo., will benefit from $25,000 in playground equipment won during the international Legacy of Play® Contest. The $25,000 award will help complete the City of Poplar Bluff’s main recreation space, Kiwanis Bacon Memorial Park, with inclusive playground equipment to accommodate children and families with special needs from the five surrounding counties.

Poplar Bluff, known as “The Gateway to the Ozarks,” is located along the Black River in Southeast Missouri. With a population of more than 17,000 residents, Poplar Bluff is the county seat and regional hub of education, health care and business.

“We are thrilled to have been awarded $25,000 for our inclusive playground project,” said Subrina Berger, president of Poplar Bluff Kiwanis club, who spearheaded the contest entry. “With the help and faith of our incredible Kiwanis club, we finally met the goal we set two years ago to create a space in Kiwanis Bacon Memorial Park where children with special needs, toddlers and older kids can play together without fear of being hurt or left out. I speak for the entire Poplar Bluff Kiwanis club when I say how much we appreciate this award.”

The Poplar Bluff Kiwanis club will complete its inclusive playground project on or around Kiwanis One Day in October 2017. One Day is Kiwanis International’s signature day of service during which many clubs participate in service projects benefitting their local communities.

Learn more about our partnership with Kiwanis International during the 101st Annual Convention June 23-26 in Toronto.

Guest Blog: Inspiring creative play among kids

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In 2016, we introduced Smart Play®: Venti™, a smartly designed playstructure that packs 20 exciting activities into its compact size. Today, we’re happy to have Tory Roff, concept designer at Landscape Structures, as our guest blogger discussing how he and the product development team created the newest addition to our Smart Play line of playstructures.

The idea for the Smart Play line of playstructures was more an ethos about playgrounds as a whole… about creating a cohesive play environment. The criteria for this playground solution was a small footprint and budget, but a desire to serve a large population. So, we started with a blank slate without any rules, and asked ourselves how to design an environment that invites a dynamic play experience.

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The design started with the Cargo Net and strategically set the height of it so there is room for play underneath, allowing it to work as a trampoline above and it also acts as a hub for the rest of the play space. We built out from there in respect to circuits and routes so there are different ways to engage the whole of the system. Graduated challenge is built into Smart Play: Venti so that kids with a higher skill level can find challenges and still have a way to invent from it.

We spent a lot of time in the model space—virtual and scale models—working out the dimensions of the structure to really understand how every piece could be doing more. In modular playgrounds, a fire pole is always a fire pole. But good design considers what programming is happening around the fire pole so that kids can create another route and link two events as a cohesive experience rather than a series of segmented happenings. And that’s what’s happening with Smart Play: Venti. The Cabin Climber is an interior club house and an exterior ladder. The pods on the Cargo Net are a way-finding option through the structure, but also a place to stop and hang out. The Belt Hammock is a space for lounging, but also an escape route—it’s not big, it’s not obvious, but it is there.

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I was able to talk with students at Birchview Elementary School while they played, and they talked about their friend, Michael, who uses a mobility device. They were excited that he can actually use this equipment, and how it’s his favorite on the playground. Because the design is less scripted, there’s less expectation of how a user actually engages it. Smart Play: Venti allows for more natural inclusion through the addition of many access points and a centralized hangout location, which was one of our primary goals during the design process.

There is enough variety of activities in the playstructure so that kids feel like they can fill in the blank however they want. As designers, we had ideas and hopes of how everything would play out. But you have to engage it from a place of humility and know that there isn’t such a thing as intended use. Kids are infinitely more creative than we are, so it’s important that we give them a platform to express that.

Dreams becoming reality in Ottawa, Ill.

Earlier this year, we hosted the Legacy of Play Contest along with Kiwanis International to bring a playground to a deserving community. The winner of the contest was the Kiwanis of Ottawa, Ill., who received $25,000 in Landscape Structures playground equipment.

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Phase I

 

Ottawa, Ill., is home to more than 18,500 people, and 13 percent of the community’s children live with a disability. However, Ottawa does not have a park that welcomes children of all abilities. In order to change that a group of volunteers founded PROJECT INCLUSIVE, and their first project was to build an inclusive playground in an existing city park. The goal of the project is to reimagine an area that fosters relationships, family and pride—allowing PROJECT INCLUSIVE to shine for all members of the community.

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Phase II

 

Now, six months after the Legacy of Play Contest award was presented to the Kiwanis of Ottawa, Ill., the group is well on their way to making their dream a reality. PROJECT INCLUSIVE is developing the project in two phases—first, the freestanding play components and second, the inclusive playstructure. And if all goes as planned, the community of Ottawa will have the start of their inclusive playground by early next summer!

Planning for inclusion on World Autism Awareness Day

Today marks the eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day. This day brings autism organizations around the world together to help raise awareness about the disorder affecting nearly 1 in 68 children. Because of these stats and the fact that there are one in seven children in the U.S. living with a disability, we took a close look at public playground requirements for children with disabilities by conducting a survey of nearly 900 parents of children 12-years-old and younger.

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More than half (57 percent) of all parents asked about playground requirements for children with disabilities, mistakenly believe playgrounds are required to have elements designed for children with autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, and visual and hearing impairments. That means that people who think they’re designing an inclusive playground based upon ADA standards are really only designing to the minimum requirements and could be missing a huge need in their community.

Over the past few years, we’ve learned about a desire to include sensory play experiences and multigenerational opportunities for social interaction. Planners also want to make sure the community or school playground offers enough challenge for children who are typically developing as well so that there are opportunities for healthy interaction among children of all abilities. Our survey echoed that idea… nearly 75 percent of parents believe it is important that their children have an opportunity to play with a variety of children, including those with disabilities.

The Oodle® Swing encourages healthy interaction among children of all abilities.

Overall, when planning an inclusive playground, inclusion should be used as a guiding principal—a checkpoint that you continue to question, “How are we fulfilling this need?” Learn more about inclusive play at playlsi.com, and see more results from our Inclusive Play survey.

One year of inclusive play in Russia and counting…

This week marks the one year anniversary of the opening of the first inclusive playground in Russia. Together with our partner in inclusive play, Shane’s Inspiration, we designed the fully inclusive and accessible playground to deliver a nature-inspired play experience. The natural playground design in addition to the sensory-stimulating and developmentally appropriate activities will welcome children and families of all abilities.

This is the first inclusive playground to be installed in Russia.

The installation of the accessible playground equipment was in association with the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi. Read more about this playground first here.