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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Guest Blog: Playing together at Savannah’s Playground

In September, our local playground consultant, Carolina Parks & Play, helped open Savannah’s Playground in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Ingrid M. Kanics, member of Landscape Structures Inclusive Play Advisory Board, was able to attend the grand opening, and today, as our guest blogger, she shares her experience of the event and takes us through the inclusive playground design.

Labor Day typically marks the end of summer, but this year in Myrtle Beach, it marked the beginning of something amazing. Hundreds of people gathered to be part of the official opening of Savannah’s Playground. This inclusive playground, located in the Myrtle Beach Grand Park, takes playing to a whole new level.

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The playground itself provides visitors of all ages and abilities with activities that will keep them busy for hours. For the early learners, there is a whole area of assorted structures that will provide them with a whole mix of climbing and sliding activities where they can build their muscles as well as social and cognitive skills. This playground area includes ample seating and shade to support families with young children.

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Oodle® Swing

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Families will also find a huge collection of swings of assorted types. The collection allows children of all abilities the opportunity to experience this favorite childhood activity. The sheer number of swings ensures that wait times to get on a swing will be minimal compared to the regular playground experience. Group swings like the Oodle® Swing provide children with the chance to swing together with their friends.

Nestled in a group of trees a bit off the beaten path is the Sensory Play Center®. Various activity panels encourage children to play with their sense of touch, sight and hearing. The curves within the wall create small nodes of play that support group play for two or three children at a time. This results in a quieter play area, which will support children with autism.

Just down from the Sensory Play Center is Pulse® Table Tennis, an interactive and multisensory game. The lights and sounds attract children of all abilities to try their hand at electronic table tennis. As children play together, the game challenges their motor coordination, reflexes and reasoning as they try to out play their opponent. The quicker children play, the quicker the game becomes, thus challenging even the best athletes who come to the playground.

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ZipKrooz®

 

Even more, a triple ZipKrooz® with assorted seating options ensures that children of all abilities are able to fly down the track to their friends on the other end. Individuals of all ages and abilities will enjoy flying through space!

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PlayBooster® playstructure

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Sway Fun® Glider

 

Once visitors have sampled all of the surrounding play spaces, they can dive into playing on the main playground structure. This huge ramped playstructure delivers a route of play that takes them 12 feet off the ground. Along the way to the top, there are a wide variety of play panels to explore, which will occupy their mind in play to build reasoning and problem-solving skills by engaging their senses. Kids can take a pit stop at the Sway Fun® glider, or leave the structure through the abundance of playground slides found at assorted levels on the playstructure. Plus, a variety of climbers that help build motor coordination and muscle strength are positioned throughout the playground so kids can quickly get back up to the fun. Set around this playground are inclusive playground components–the We-saw™, OmniSpin® Spinner, Roller Table and TopsyTurny® Spinner–that promote group play. Children and their friends can experience motion in fun and different ways!

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OmniSpin® Spinner

 

To say the least, Savannah’s Playground provided hundreds of kids with a great place to play on this Labor Day weekend morning. Every child will find their “just right” fit on this playground as it is designed to support their physical, sensory and cognitive needs while delivering a world of fun. It allows each visitor to build their socialization skills and self-esteem as they walk, run, roll, slide, climb, swing and spin together at Savannah’s Playground!

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.

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!

Case Study: Healing through play

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Client: Boston Redevelopment Authority, Boston, Mass.

Designers: Cheri Ruane, landscape architect at Spurr, Weston & Sampson’s design studio

Goal: Design an exciting and interesting playground that would be truly inclusive so that kids who are typically developing and those with special needs could play together

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Solution: Cheri and her team collaborated with physical and occupational therapists from nearby Spaulding Rehabilitation Center to learn and understand what kinds of therapy and activities should be supported in the park. The playground combines the Evos® playsystem with the PlayBooster® playstructure, landforms were used to create elevation so that space wasn’t taken up by really long lengths of ramps. And sensory-rich and therapy-specific components were included to meet the needs of all visitors.

Read more about how Thomas M. Menino Park brings fun and therapy to the Boston Waterfront.

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What should consider when planning a playground design?

Planning the perfect playground environment for your school or park can be easy. Just keep in mind the following playground design characteristics to ensure you create a beautiful playground that is safe, fun and comfortable for all visitors:

Plan for multiple age groups in your playground design.

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  • Age of visitors. Will you have multiple age groups visiting your playground? If so, plan to include a playground structure specifically for 2- to 5-year-olds as well as kids ages 5 to 12.
  • Playground accessibility. If your community has individuals of varying abilities, consider designing an inclusive playground that welcomes everyone including children with and without disabilities, parents with strollers, aging grandparents, wounded warriors, etc.
  • Design elements. We can
    Create a unique playground theme for your community park.

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    create a unique playground theme that incorporates historical characteristics from your community, specific color schemes, or school or city logos into your playground design.

  • Additional amenities. If your playground gets hot, you may want to include shade. Would your community use and benefit from the inclusion of HealthBeat® outdoor fitness equipment? Benches and trash receptacles are great amenities to include as well.
  • Installation. We have a few installation options available including community playground build, professional installation or a blend of both.
Create an active community by including the HealthBeat® outdoor fitness system into your playground design.

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Contact your local playground consultant to request our Playground Planning Guide, and then let the dreaming, planning and designing begin! We’ll work together with you to bring your vision into focus.