The best of 2018

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2018 has been an amazing year… filled with great products, projects and messages. See the best of 2018 in the form of our most read blog posts.

1. Spreading the message of inclusion
We’re working with Shane’s Inspiration to promote the animated short film, “Ian,” which aims to help children understand disability and spread the message of inclusion.

2. Bringing literacy to the playground
The Loft family has grown to include the Fire Station and Market Cafe with even more developmentally appropriate activities including literacy prompts.

3. How to design nature playground environments
Design a playground or outdoor learning environment that encourages kids (and their families) to be outside and reconnect with nature.

4. Five considerations for your toddler and preschool playground
To help you create a dream playground for your daycare or preschool that focuses on toddlers’ developmental needs in mind, we created a fun infographic.

5. Big fun comes in small packages
Smart Play® playstructures pack a lot of activities into compact structures, taking kids from early crawling exploration on up to active climbing and social play to a challenging course for older children.

Thank you for tuning in to Together We Play in 2018. We’re looking forward to an exciting year of play; tell us below what you’d like to see more of in 2019 and we’ll do our best to share it here.

Changing kids’ lives together

At this time of year, we all love to hear stories of people doing good for others. And that’s why we wanted to share this story of Rachel, a 9-year-old who built an inclusive playground for her community in Kentucky. Thanks to Rachel’s dad, Jeff, for sharing this amazing story with us.

When Rachel was in third grade she formed The Rachel’s Fun For Everyone project, an organization to raise funds for an all-accessible playground in Vine Grove, Ky. She came up with the idea for the playground after seeing children on a playground who couldn’t play like she could. She didn’t think it was fair that they couldn’t play just because of a disability, and wanted to make a change.

Over five years, Rachel and her family, along with the community, raised more than $500,000 to create a place for everyone–no matter their ability–to play. Rachel’s dream became a reality in August 2017, and Rachel is continuing to fight for the right of play and for inclusion for everyone.

Get more information about Rachel and Rachel’s Fun for Everyone Project on Facebook or by visiting her website.

Giving children of all abilities a safe environment to play

We’re excited to announce that the Kiwanis Club of Marietta, Ohio, is the winner in the 5th Annual Legacy of Play contest. The club, which will receive $25,000 in playground equipment, plans to renovate the community’s nearly 30-year-old playstructure to make it inclusive for the entire community, giving children of all abilities a safe environment to gather outside to socialize, grow and play.

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“This award is going to be such a boost,” said Marcia Stewart, who managed the Kiwanis Club of Marietta’s entry into the contest. “We’re so grateful to be able to spearhead this inclusive playground project.”

Marietta is a historic, charming riverboat town nestled in the rolling hills of the Mid-Ohio Valley. The city served as the starting point for westward expansion by early pioneers, and the design of the all-inclusive Northwest Territory Community Playground will pay tribute to the area’s first settlement. From themed and inclusive playground equipment, embedded historical facts and an artifact seek-and-find activity, adults and children in the community will have the opportunity to learn about the area.

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We’re excited to see this inclusive playground vision come to life over the next year. The Marietta Kiwanis Club hopes to complete the Northwest Territory Community Playground on or around Kiwanis One Day in October 2019. Stay tuned for updates along the way.

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.

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.