Connecting play and learning at Greater & Greener 2017

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More than 1,000 park leaders, city planners, design professionals, and urban park advocates came to Minneapolis and Saint Paul from around the world for Greater & Greener 2017: Parks Connecting Cities, Cultures, & Generations. The five-day indoor and outdoor conference focused on the role of urban parks in creating healthy, resilient and economically competitive cities.

In addition to being a Gold Sponsor of the Conference, we hosted two events throughout the week. On Sunday, July 30, we welcomed 40 volunteers from around the world to construct a playground at Central Village Park in St. Paul. The volunteer’s finished building commercial playground equipment for kids ages 5 to 12, a Clubhouse for kids ages 2 to 5 and playground panels, which featured Too Small to Fail‘s Talking is Teaching creative content with parent-child conversation prompts to foster healthy language-rich interactions.

 

On Tuesday, Aug. 1, we hosted a mobile workshop that showcased the most imaginative playgrounds in Minneapolis. Attendees heard from the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board and community members about how the city encourages healthy outdoor activity, brings families together and builds community. Even more, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges joined the group at Powderhorn Park to share her commitment to cradle-to-K development and how the city is using the Talking is Teaching campaign to support early literacy in the city.

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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.

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.

Case Study: Creating lasting relationships with play and recreation

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Client: City of Jonesboro Parks & Recreation Department

Designers: Sheri Seminary, playground designer at Landscape Structures Inc.

Goal: Create a Miracle League recreation complex that could act as a showcase for all other Miracle Leagues

Solution: Their vision came to life as a 20-acre recreation complex complete with a rubberized ball field for children and adults with special needs, an inclusive playground, a concession stand, restrooms and a quiet room designed especially for children with autism. The inclusive playground focuses on access and offering sensory-stimulating activities including the Sensory Play Center®, OmniSpin® spinner, Roller Table, We-Saw™ and Sway Fun® glider. Even more, the playground integrates lots of shade right into the playstructure.

Read more about how the City of Jonesboro brought their community together through inclusive recreation at the Jonesboro Miracle League Park.

Case Study: Connecting Community Members of All Abilities

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Client: Government of Durango and Integral Development of the Family (DIF), Durango, Mexico

Designers: Pat Tacheny, playground designer at Landscape Structures, and Christine Brey, custom playground designer at Landscape Structures

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Goal: In addition to creating a recreation space for the community to socialize and be active, another goal of the park revitalization was to create an inclusive space to welcome individuals of all abilities. The inclusive playground design includes an extensive ramping system, activity panels and playground components to deliver various sensory experiences. Plus, a playground bridge was personalized to mimic the famous Baluarte Bridge. The real bridge connects the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Northern Mexico, while the playground bridge encourages kids of all abilities to connect with each other.

Visit playlsi.com to read more about how the Government of Durango and DIF designed a play environment to help create an inclusive society.

Case Study: Creating an inclusive recreation destination

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Client: City of Ankeny Parks and Recreation department, Ankeny, Iowa

Designers: Outdoor Recreation Products and Gabriel Cotten, Landscape Structures playground designer

Goal: Create an inclusive destination to welcome children and families of all abilities

Solution: To create an inclusive play environment, a PlayBooster® playstructure with an extensive ramping system was installed. The ramps allow kids using wheelchairs or other mobility devices to get to the highest levels on the playground, and there are playground activities like the Rollerslide and Sway Fun® glider along the way. Set apart from the main playstructures are even more opportunities for inclusive play. And to tie in with the nearby Miracle League baseball field, custom baseball roofs were included.

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Visit playlsi.com to read more about how the City of Ankeny Parks and Recreation department partnered with community organizations to bring a unique recreation experience to the kid of Ankeny as well as surrounding communities.

ROCKing in Las Vegas

At the National Recreation & Park Association’s Annual Conference earlier this week in Las Vegas, we ROCKED the exhibit hall! Our booth space featured The Canyon Collection™ and a customized Netplex™ in our new colors, plus we had rock star cardboard cutouts, root beer kegs and Pop Rocks.

The Canyon Collection™ helped us ROCK the exhibit hall at NRPA.

Visits to our booth were met with our nature-inspired climbers, which enticed many to test out their rock-climbing skills. All that play combined with Pop Rocks took attendees back to days from their youth! On Tuesday night, we rocked the Exhibit Hall Reception with karaoke, margaritas in light-up glasses and lots of photo ops. It was so much fun, Elvis even stopped by to sing!

From nature-inspired climbers to Elvis, Las Vegas didn't disappoint.

We had a great time in Las Vegas visiting with park and recreation professionals, hearing from industry experts and taking in all that the city has to offer. Our employees and playground consultants are already looking forward to the 2016 NRPA Annual Conference in St. Louis!