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: Healing through play

Thomas M. Menino Park, Boston, Massachusetts

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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Celebrating Sensory Awareness Month

National Sensory Awareness Month | October 2015

October is National Sensory Awareness Month… a time for us to help spread awareness of sensory processing disorder (SPD). SPD, which affects both children and adults, is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. The causes of SPD are among the subjects that researchers at the SPD Foundation have been studying, and treatment often includes natural setting therapy like at home, school or the playground.

The benefits of sensory-stimulating playground activities—those that engage all their senses—affect children of all abilities. The more they engage all of their senses, the better they make sense of the world around them and their relationship to it. See our infographic below of five ways that children benefit from sensory play.

5 Key Benefits of Sensory Play | Landscape Structures Inc.

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.

Help bring inclusive play to a Twin Cities community

Nearly 14 percent of American children have one or more special needs ranging from autism to cerebral palsy. Nationwide there’s a growing trend of communities, schools and organizations advocating for more inclusive playgrounds where kids of all abilities can play together. The Madison Claire Foundation is working diligently to raise funds to build Madison’s Place, the first all-inclusive and accessible playground in Woodbury, Minn.

Madison Claire Foundation

They now have a chance to secure new funding through the “All-Star Fans Choose” grant. The $500,000 grant is supported by Major League Baseball, the Minnesota Twins, the Twins Community Fund and the Pohlad Family Foundation. Even better, you can vote for the Madison Claire Foundation and help increase their chance to win! Fans can vote once per day from now through Thursday, July 11, and the winner will be announced during MLB All-Star Week.

Learn more about Madison’s Place and the Madison Claire Foundation.

Supporting inclusive play

Last week, we were honored at the Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Foundation’s 1st Annual Banquet of Champions. Held at the Inverness Hotel and Conference Center in Englewood, Colo., the event brought together people to help raise funds for research towards understanding behavioral and brain differences in children with SPD. Additionally, the Foundation celebrated individuals and organizations that have supported the SPD Foundation.

Proud to be recognized by the SPD Foundation for our commitment to inclusive play.

We were presented the Champion of Partnership award for partnering with the SPD Foundation to bring “The World’s Best Sensory Playground” to the STAR Center. The inclusive and sensory-stimulating playground equipment is used as a therapy tool for kids receiving treatment at the STAR Center.

Dr. Miller created an inclusive playground with many sensory-rich activities at the STAR Center.

We’re proud to work with the SPD Foundation and support their research in sensory processing disorders, and honored by this recognition. Learn more about the SPD Foundation and the STAR Center, and go here to read more about our commitment to inclusive play.

First inclusive playground opens in Russia

On Monday, Feb. 10, we celebrated from afar the grand opening of the first inclusive playground in Russia. The inclusive playground was installed in association with the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi.

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

We worked with our partner in inclusive play, Shane’s Inspiration, to design the inclusive play space. In addition to being fully inclusive, the playground offers a nature-inspired play experience with log steppers, climbers that mimic logs and boulders, and a tree house. The nature-inspired features along with the sensory- and accessible-focused playground components help to welcome children of all abilities.

Sensory and accessible playground components will help welcome children and families of all abilities to play.

This is the second Olympics-related inclusive playground in which Shane’s Inspiration and we’ve been involved—the first was installed in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Learn more about the project, and see photos here.

Inclusion in Ecuador

Cuenca, Ecuador, is home to the first inclusive playground in the entire country!

As we mentioned last month, our partnership with Shane’s Inspiration helped us bring the first inclusive playground to Ecuador! On Friday, Nov. 22, Paúl Granda López, Mayor of Cuenca, our president, Pat Faust, and the team from Shane’s Inspiration celebrated the grand opening of the 8,880 square-foot inclusive playground. The event welcomed more than 200 children of all abilities, many who were experiencing swinging and playgrounds for the very first time in their lives!

Former Vice President Lenin Moreno, an extraordinary champion for the rights of people with disabilities, initiated the concept of the inclusive playground, inspired by his own personal journey as a paraplegic and his discovery of the healing power of laughter and play therapy.

Read more about the inclusive playground in Cuenca as well as the social inclusion workshop that Shane’s Inspiration held for more than 80 university students majoring in special education.

Guest Blog: Designing a truly inclusive playground

In June, we awarded the Iola Kiwanis club in Iola, Kan., $25,000 in playground equipment as part of the Make a Difference Through Play contest. Since winning, they’ve been busy with plans, and we’re happy to share another update from Michael Ford, member of Iola Kiwanis and community resource officer for the Iola Police Department.

When our playground consultant from ATHCO, LLC visited with us to discuss the inclusive playground design, five representatives from the M.O.M.S. group were at the meeting along with the school’s physical therapist and a couple of Kiwanis members. We all paged through the Landscape Structures catalog—the moms focused on products that might specifically help their kids—and the rest of us picked out items that we thought we be fun for all kids.

The Marble Panel™, Xylofun Panel® and Bongo Panel all provide sensory-rich experiences for kids.

L to R: Marble Panel™, Xylofun Panel® and Bongo Panel

Some of the moms focused on including sensory panels because they figured that even though their children might not have a lot of muscle strength to climb or hang from overhead events, they can still participate and have fun. And I don’t know what kid isn’t going to enjoy beating on Bongo Drums or playing on a Xylophone, which is what some of the panels included. Another popular item was the Marble Panel™, which one mom whose child with vision problems picked out. The light shines through the marbles to engage kids’ sight, plus it offers a unique tactile experience.

As a parent of kids without special needs, I never thought about sensory items as part of the playground, but now I see that it’s very important. And it’s important for the development of all kids. That, to me, is how we’re providing a truly inclusive play space.

The Roller Table provides a unique sensory experience with its deep muscle pressure.

Roller Table™

While the moms focused on sensory-rich activities, the physical therapist thought more about what kids—with and without special needs—need for building strength. She chose climbers that would engage kids’ full bodies. And she thought the Roller Table™ would be great for kids that don’t have any lower body strength, as they can lie down and pull themselves through.

The design process has been very educational for us. The Cozy Dome®, which I just looked at as a fort or climber, can also be beneficial for children with autism to use as a “time-out” space if they get overstimulated. It was quite the learning experience to look at these playground products from a different point of view.

The Cozy Dome® offers kids a place to escape the hustle and bustle of a busy playground, take time by themselves or socialize together.

Cozy Dome®

After that first meeting, our playground consultant came back with a design that we all liked. The design is final; however, if we exceed our fundraising goal we’d love to add more inclusive playground pieces to the design.

Stay tuned for another update from Michael next month. He’ll talk more about the importance of inclusive play to the community of Iola.

Dynamic nets win Best Visual Appeal in Boston

Last weekend, we were in Boston, Mass., to participate in the 2013 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Annual Meeting & Expo. The theme of our booth this year was “We believe parks make communities great,” and it featured our newest playground innovation, GeoNetrix.

We believe parks make communities great!

Visitors to our booth were able to get a first look at the iconic playstructure. The dynamic nets, contemporary towers and colored, translucent polycarbonate roofs of GeoNetrix enticed attendees to stop by for a play break and test the new playground innovation. Landscape architects were so captivated by the structure that they voted our booth Best Visual Appeal.

GeoNetrix offered ASLA attendees an opportunity to take a play break and test our new iconic playstructure.

In addition to our booth, we were proud to sponsor the Opening General Session speaker, Jack Dangermond, founder of Esri, who spoke about geodesign and the emerging GIS platform. We also sponsored the ASLA/Landscape Structures Gala at the Boston Children’s Museum, which offered hands-on activities, farm-to-table dining and dancing.

American Society of Landscape Architects Annual Meeting & Expo | Boston, Mass. |

We had a great time in Boston visiting with landscape architects, hearing from industry experts and taking in the nearby attractions. Our employees and playground consultants are already looking forward to 2014 ASLA in Denver, Colo.!