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.

Choosing the right outdoor fitness equipment for your community

Create an active community by including the HealthBeat® outdoor fitness system into your playground design.

Everyone seems to be talking about the importance of community wellness lately. The good news is that your park can do something to help improve it. Offering outdoor fitness equipment is a great way to increase park usage while also increasing the health of your community. Keep in mind these four considerations when purchasing outdoor fitness equipment:

HealthBeat® Tai Chi Wheels

  1. Create an inclusive environment. Welcome teens and adults of all abilities to workout together with fitness equipment that is accessible and easily understood by first-time users.
  2. Meet the needs of all fitness levels. Look for outdoor fitness equipment that will meet users at their level—whether that’s beginner or advanced.
  3. Offer a variety of workouts. Provide equipment that targets various fitness areas such as muscle strength, cardiovascular health and balance/flexibility.
  4. Design to fit your environment. Consider where your outdoor fitness equipment will get the most use—along a walking trail, next to the playground or ball field, or at a senior living community—and make sure the equipment’s size and aesthetic will fit the environment.

HealthBeat® Elliptical

Check out the refreshed, contemporary design of the HealthBeat® outdoor fitness system, which fits the above criteria. Our resistance technology delivers a better workout, and signage includes links to instructional videos that can be viewed on a smart device while at each fitness station. Learn more at playlsi.com.

Creating more excitement with playground colors

When it comes to playgrounds, color is just as important to a child’s learning environment as the play structure itself. To create a sensory-rich playground environment for children, we spent the past year researching outdoor environments and working with chemists to create color formulas in nature-inspired hues and tones. The new colors—Berry, Buttercup, Carbon, Grass, Lagoon, Paprika, Peacock and Sky—are designed to enhance a child’s play experience.

Nature-inspired playground colors

The benefits of these innovative colors are numerous:

  • Nature-inspired colors allow children to engage in a playground design that creates a calming experience. This is because tones that reflect the outdoors are familiar to children. For example, we wanted the tone Buttercup to relay the feeling of playing a field of flowers.
  • Unlike the average toy, which is meant to drive visually loud experiences, natured-inspired playground colors help children focus. This is particularly beneficial for children with sensory processing disorders who often seek soothing environments, and the tones Sky and Peacock are meant to replicate the calming sense of sky gazing or playing in a garden.
  • Our new color line intentionally adds a metallic fleck to a matte finish for a richer finish that creates texture and offers a tactile play experience.

Harry Thomas Sr. Playspace

Learn more about our color inspirations and our overall design philosophy at playlsi.com. And tell us here how you use color to create additional dimension in your designs.