National Playground Safety Week 2019

It’s National Playground Safety Week, and there’s no better time to read up on some of the most important aspects of playground safety: audits and maintenance! Understanding the difference and the components of the two can help you create a safe, up to date play space for all ages and abilities!

Safety Audit

Check us out on playlsi.com to read more about staying safe on the playground!

 

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!

Playground Planning for All Ages

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One of the initial hurdles of planning a playground is deciding on an approach to designing an area that will be used by children of a variety of ages and abilities. Infants and toddlers, pre-school, and school-age children all differ greatly in both physical size and ability, as well as cognitive and social skill level. Age-appropriate equipment should be able to accommodate these differences. In The Handbook for Public Playground Safety, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) divides these age groups as 0-2, 2-5, and 5-12 years.

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Infants and toddlers age 0-2 years have varying mobility, whether they are crawling, scooting, or walking. Most of their activity is a sensory exploration of seeing, feeling and tasting their surroundings. This age group requires space to explore cognitive-rich surroundings while being closely monitored by a caretaker.

Appropriate activities and equipment for this age range are:

-tunnel mazes and activity panels with “pull up” handles for infants

-small multi-level play structures for toddlers with crawl tunnels and slides of an appropriate height

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Pre-schoolers age 2-5 years have a limited attention span and tend to focus on activities involving climbing over, under and around things coupled with building fine motor skills. Around 3, older preschoolers take part in dramatic play and imitation. Social skills develop as they seek to imitate older peers. Conflict and risk-taking can happen at this age and requires heavy supervision.

Appropriate activities and equipment for this age range are:

-linked play structures that are scaled to smaller children’s dimensions with age appropriate play such as crawl tunnels, small slides, enclosed play spaces, activity panels for fine motor skill development.

-Independent play events such as spring riders, talk tubes, and themed climbers that promote active and fantasy play

-A sandbox with play tables for manipulative play

-Learning wall clusters at ground level for young children of all abilities

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School-aged children age 5-12 years learn and build skills rapidly, working on their fine and gross motor skills, coordination, strength, and balance. Social skills evolve with elaborate games and competitions amongst peers. Older children closer to 12 years can be nearly double the size of children on the younger end of this range with nearly 8 times the grip strength. High spirits and peer pressure influence this age and can lead to aggression or vandalism. These displays of energy can be a liability to children on the younger end of the spectrum. Sufficient challenge is needed to keep older children occupied both mentally and physically. They can work on their spacial skills, hand/eye coordination, motor planning and using imagination to create games.

Appropriate activities and equipment for this age range are:

-linked play structures with decks and play activities geared to the body dimensions and play needs of older children.

-swings, climbers, fitness clusters, spinners and other independent play events designed to provide challenge.

-sports equipment such as basketball or tether ball

Each age-specific area should be separated by a buffer zone. This can include benches, picnic tables, a pedestrian path, decorative fence, or landscaping. Play areas should be visible from the others for safety reasons, as well as being equipped with seating and drinking fountains in view if possible.

Th general budget guideline is to spend about 60 percent of your budget on equipment for older children and 40 percent for toddlers and preschoolers, but this can be varied on a case by case basis.

For more information about planning your playground, visit our website

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.

Case Study: Blending the Old and New at French Regional Park

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Case Study: Blending the Old and New at French Regional Park

Client: Three Rivers Park District

Goal: Revitalize the 30 year old playground area at French Regional Park by creating a signature look to the design while retaining some distinctive features of the original structure.

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Solution: Incorporate community feedback into the park’s plans to ensure the residences’ confidence in the project. A third grade Kid Task Force was created to give input on the final design so everyone could feel included. Between the feedback, color schemes and and some components were incorporated into designs that focused on fun and accessibility. Sensory play at the lower levels, sand and water features, interactive panels, and wheelchair access throughout made for a park that invites all community members to have fun.

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Click to read the full story about French Regional Park

Introducing: The Crab Trap™!

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Introducing: The Crab Trap™!  The Crab Trap™ invites children to take part in endless climbing options. Climbing experiences vary based on whether players are inside or outside the structure while a variety of components add an additional layer of interest and experiences. Between the outside climbing capabilities and inside options, play is endless in the Crab Trap™.

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The open ended play set-up excites a kid’s creativity and encourages the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Maneuvering from challenge to challenge retains interest with even players older in age. The Crab Trap aids in the development in a variety of areas: sensory, motor skills, cognitive skills, and social/emotional skills.

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Available in Hot Galvanized Steel for coastal environments as well as having steel enforced cables, the Crab Trap™ is resistant to vandalism, sun, and other environmental damage for a longer life and more pleasing visual aesthetics for years to come!

 

Case Study: Honoring Paco Sanchez Through Play

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Case Study: Honoring Paco Sanchez Through Play

 

Client:  Denver Parks and Recreation

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Goal: Engage with citizens to find the right design to honor the community and local heroes while revitalizing the underutilized space into an  eye-catching destination to be used for years to come.

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Solution: Community members, Denver parks and Recreation, and Landscape Structures Inc communicated and collaborated to come up with the design of Paco Sanchez park featuring a custom microphone component to pay homage to local DJ Paco Sanchez while promoting health and wellness within the community through play. An elevated bridge to the tower allows children and adults of all abilities to experience structure. This created a park environment where locals and people outside the area would be drawn to its unique design and functionality. The success of the park has become an example for other areas to take note of for how to keep communities active.

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Click to read the full story of Paco Sanchez Park