Planning an Inclusive Playground

Planning a playground requires consideration for children of all abilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all playgrounds to be brought into compliance. Since the ADA requirements have come out, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) have provided written guidelines for accessibility compliance. ASTM F1487-05 Standard is a document that provides specific playground/play equipment accessibility guidance.

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The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board has also authored a guideline that is the standard of practice for determining compliance with the ADA.

Legally, the ADA requires that “each service, program, or activity conducted by a public entity when viewed in its entirety, be readily accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities.” This law covers “both indoor and outdoor areas where human constructed improvements, structures, equipment or property have been added to the natural environment.”

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Accessibility law only requires that comparable experiences must be provided for all. If there are several slides and two or more swings, it is considered accessible if children with disabilities can use one of the slides and one of the swings. To learn more about the difference between accessibility and inclusivity, click here.

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Aside from the regulations put forth that determine how to design an accessible playground for children of varying mobilities, there are many actions a planner should take to ensure their structure is truly inclusive. Inclusivity on a playground can be witnessed when children of all abilities can play together and participate equally- not separately and on their own. A well-designed playground incorporates the aspects of inclusive play to blend seamlessly.

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To learn more about inclusive play structures, visit playlsi.com

To find an inclusive playground near you, click here.

The Power of Play

We believe in the power of play and what it means to us, regardless of age or ability.

“Play never said be careful, you’re not strong enough, you’re not big enough you’re not brave enough.”

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Play isn’t a simple idea that can be packaged neatly, succinctly.

“Play doesn’t care what a body can or cannot do.”

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Play doesn’t just teach us one thing- it teaches us everything. It shapes who we are and who we become. Play itself is a powerful part of everyone, which is why a playground should be for everyone.

“…play lives inside us.”

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Play is limitless, and we too are also limitless.

Play invites us to grab a hold of the rope and take a leap of faith into the world because play is everything.

To learn more about the infinite power of play, visit us at playlsi.com and watch our video here.

Creating a Community Splash Pad: Benefits and Pre-Planning

Planning a community splash pad can be an intimidating process. There are many aspects to consider in order to make the investment a success. In this series, we will be offering guidance on what to expect, steps to take, and elements to consider during the planning process!

There are many benefits to investing in a community splash pad. One of the long-term benefits is the revenue that residents and non-residents bring into the community along with the added appeal of living in that area. Attracting people means attracting money and patronage to the community. Patrons eat at restaurants, go to movies, buy gas, and go shopping whether they are living there or visiting. Adding to inclusive play opportunities for children is another important benefit. People who are looking for inclusive areas that are built with their children in mind can appreciate design intended for their kids’ physical and mental needs. Inclusive water play may be one of the only public areas that caters to all ages and abilities. Overall, splash pads can benefit a community both socially and economically.

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Pre-Planning Steps

Progressive cities should develop a coordinated system of parks and open space to meet the recreation aspects of urban life. This system, when properly planned, will maintain a consistent ratio between the park system and the developing population. The system will also develop a program consistent with the specific needs of the population. Finally, the system will develop a plan for future development to meet the demands of a growing population.

During the planning and development phase public officials should have an in depth knowledge of the communities needs based on resources, age demographics, future community growth, maintenance capabilities, expansion, location and funding. This should be accomplished based on past history and future expectations.

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History of the Park & Recreation Department: The first section of a plan gives the community a historical context in which to view the department and provides details as to how and why city leaders determined the need and created the department. This section is relevant to the plan because it allows the plan user and community to discover the progress which has already been made in parks and recreation in the city.

Introduction to a Master Plan: This section briefly describes that many progressive cities adopt coordinated parks system plans and explains the purposes of the plan. The section provides a preview of the contents of the overall master plan. Plus, it will define the overall park system by type and size facility. It will then project future needs both in terms of land and physical fixtures. Finally, it will provide a basis for a long-range capital improvements program, and provide for flexibility in the design and construction of individual parks.

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Analysis of the City: A section detailing information on demographics, projected population, and observed needs of the city’s existing and future population. This is an important section of the plan because it details who will be utilizing the splash pad in the future and what their recreational needs may be.

Profile of the Existing Parks and Recreation System: This section details the size, location, and facilities of each park, and all programs currently sponsored by local sports associations as well as the parks department. This section is important to the plan in that it provides information in which a sort of “state of the system” or status of the parks system may be ascertained.

These sections provide a complete overview of the scope of a recreation facility project such as a splash pad and can be referenced by all those involved for a more cohesive understanding of the details of the project.

Stay tuned for the next installment of in our series about creating a community splash pad!

Inclusivity Versus Accessibility

Though inclusivity and accessibility are concepts used interchangeably, there are in fact many differences between the two ideas. Landscape Structures proudly boasts of inclusive design in their products- but what is the difference?

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Understanding what makes accessibility and inclusivity different comes down to considering the user of the design.

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Accessibility matches the need of a user in a singular context. Accessible design is specific in that it considers a single context, problem, user, and experience. A resource may be inaccessible to one group in the way that it is accessible to another. It removes a roadblock from one group’s path.

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Inclusivity creates an environment or experience designed so that it is usable by people of a variety of abilities, in many scenarios, alongside differently abled people. Inclusivity provides the tools for a user to choose the experience that best fits their situation and ability.

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Landscape Structures believes in creating play experiences for children of all physical and mental abilities, in all aspects of physical, social and sensory play. Inclusive play is an open invitation for children to learn alongside those both similar and different from them- shaping the next generation of leaders and thinkers for the better.

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To learn more about inclusive design or find an inclusive playground near you, visit our website.

Introducing: The We-Go-Round™!

Movement and socialization are both important aspects of play, which is why we decided to put them together with the creation of the We-Go-Round! Our new, inclusive We-Go-Round allows for children of all abilities to experience all the fun of a classic merry go round with none of the restrictions. The design features strategic seating that accommodates wheelchairs (even those without a wheel-locking mechanism) as well as  your choice of two or three benches and room to stand!

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The center handhold lets riders control their own spinning speed while teaching them about their own movement and speed limitations. Its circular shape is perfect for socializing with everyone inside! Built in resistance mechanisms maintain a reasonable speed when being turned from the outside.

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Rides like the We-Go-Round allow for children to learn valuable information about their play experiences. The spinning motion develops balance and motor planning while engaging their visual and vestibular systems. Learning about the way their body moves through space advances their sensory experience- and this physical education is open to children of all abilities through the We-Go-Round™!

 

Create inspired play experiences

Bring your playground vision to life with new playground products and inspirations offered exclusively from Landscape Structures. Browse the 2019 new products below, then contact us to help you create engaging and educational play experiences that are sure to exceed your community’s expectations.

We-Go-Round™
This next-generation merry-go-round offers plenty of space for more kids of all abilities.

Crab Trap™
Accommodate lots of kids all at once with lots of opportunities to climb, crawl and hang out.

Super Netplex®
Deliver the most popular Netplex activities with added height that everyone can enjoy.

Chill™ Spinner
Provide a comfortable and secure ride to individuals of all ages for thrills or relaxation.

Curva™ Spinner
This stunning and fun spinner provides a stable base for one or multiple kids at a time.

Vibra™ Chimes
The lowest notes in the Rhapsody® collection, choose one up to all eight chimes throughout your play space.

Cascata™ Bells
Individuals of all ages and abilities can create 10 different tones on this vertically designed musical instrument.

Tongue Drum
Deliver more drumming fun in this standard and junior-sized Rhapsody Outdoor Musical Instrument.

And don’t forget to watch our newest video above, which shows how play helps build inner strength and pride in kids. Plus, browse or request our 2019 Playground Equipment Catalog to find even more inspiration for creating great play spaces.

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.