NDRPA and its members are shaping lives through play

We were proud to offer the North Dakota Recreation & Park Association (NDRPA) a Speaker Scholarship for the 2017 State Conference to support its members’ professional development. Today, we’re happy to have Kelly Churchill, marketing specialist at the Mandan Park District, as our guest blogger discussing how NDRPA and it’s members are helping build the leaders of tomorrow.

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NDRPA members are shaping the lives of kids through play by providing recreational opportunities for all ages and abilities to promote a healthy lifestyle. Park districts across the state offer something for everyone in the community whether it is youth or adult programs, parks and shelters, facilities, aquatics or events! We continue to shape lives by improving the quality of life for all citizens of North Dakota.

Mandan Universal Playground

Mandan’s Universal Playground is a destination place for its community members as well as those in surrounding communities. The inclusive playground, which was designed considering physical, sensory, social, communication and cognitive abilities, fosters the community and welcomes both children and their families for play. Landscape Structures helps provide these inclusive opportunities throughout the state of North Dakota, and we are pleased to collaborate with them to shape the lives of North Dakota residents through play.

Spreading global awareness about Sensory Processing Disorder

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October is Sensory Awareness Month, and we’re already focusing on next month because we want to help spread global awareness about this disorder.

On Oct. 6-7, our partners at the STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder will host their 20th Annual International 3S Symposium in Denver, Colo. The Symposium will highlight 20 years of research accomplishments with though-provoking research and strategy presentations by clinical experts.

The Symposium is great for any individuals–occupational or physical therapists, special education teachers, early intervention specialists, parents and more–seeking a better understanding of Sensory Processing Disorder. And in addition to the two-day Symposium, the STAR Institute is hosting a pre-symposium workshop for parents focused on relationships and SPD across the lifespan.

Learn more and register for the 3S Symposium and pre-symposium workshop here. And watch our short video below to learn more about the history of the STAR Institute.

Join us in Denver on June 8

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Join us, our playground consultants in Colorado, Rocky Mountain Recreation, and the STAR Institute for a one-day workshop, Play for ALL: Advocating for Excellence in Play Spaces, on Thursday, June 8. During the educational workshop, you’ll learn from Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, founder of the SPD Foundation and STAR Institute, as well as experts in the fields of landscape architecture, parks and recreation, and others.

The workshop will share evidence-based practices through presentations, round table discussions and expert panels in an effort to help you create more fun and functional inclusive play environments for users of all ages and abilities. Even more, you’ll learn how to build collaborative partnerships and put together a plan of action to make a difference in your community.

Space is limited! Register for the workshop today!

  • Date: Thursday, June 8
  • Time: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Location: Marriott Tech Center, 4900 Syracuse St., Denver, CO 80237

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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.