We are excited to announce the 13th Annual State Speaker Scholarship Program has launched! The 2021-2022 program will support the appearances of keynote speakers at state parks and recreation associations’ annual or regional conferences. State associations that are chosen will receive a scholarship of $2,500. Applications are being accepted through June 30, 2022; submit your application today!
Recipients of the 2021-2022 scholarship will receive $2,500 to support conference speakers whose messages are focused on topics related to play, inclusion, equity, urban parks planning or other professional development. In addition to the $2,500 scholarship, Landscape Structures will provide one complimentary Play Healthy™ Hand Sanitizer Station to each state association awarded a scholarship to raffle off, donate or share with a member.
Since the scholarship program’s inception in 2009, Landscape Structures has awarded nearly 300 scholarships to state associations and more than $720,000 to support the appearances of speakers at park and recreation conferences throughout the nation.
Many people remember the days of freestanding slides, swings and monkey bars. But in 1967, that idea of playground design advanced to interconnected play components. The revolutionary idea of combining playground activities is known as the continuous play concept, which was created by our Cofounder Steve King. As his final thesis project at Iowa State University, Steve developed a system that linked play activities together to provide a continuous challenge for children. His premise was that if kids are together on one structure, they’ll learn things that they will use in real life like social and conflict-resolution skills.
While his thesis only scored him a C+ grade, Steve took his continuous play concept to his first job as a landscape architect specializing in park planning. In 1969, he was assigned a playground design project for the City of Minneapolis where he was able to put his approach in action. His first playground was a success, which lead to more interest. And in April 1971, Steve and Barb obtained a $1,000 loan and incorporated Landscape Structures to design and build playstructures. See our company timeline here.
In an effort to provide great play experiences for kids, Landscape Structures has always been committed to innovation. Hedra®, one of our more recent inventions, allows kids to safely navigate via their own intuition and curiosity, and invent routes, games and imaginary environments. Our long-standing commitment to inclusive play is breaking barriers with the new We-Go-Swing™, the first no-transfer inclusive swing that can be integrated directly into the playground setting. Even more, the use of innovative materials and the development of colors that are truly inspired by nature is changing the world of playgrounds.
As Landscape Structures moves into its 50th year of business, we’re taking time to reflect on the power of play. We know that play and recreation has far more value than just being fun; it is essential for the health and wellbeing of communities. And that’s why our team—nearly 500 employees and the network of more than 200 playground consultants worldwide—is proud to provide unique play opportunities for all ages, abilities and backgrounds. Because no matter what’s happening in the world, we will always come back to play.
We’re excited to announce that the Early Risers Kiwanis Club of Worthington, Minnesota, is the winner in the 7th Annual Legacy of Play contest. The club, which will receive $25,000 in playground equipment, plans to build an all-inclusive playground at a local park—the only playground of its kind in the community of 13,000.
The club garnered community support for the project, including financial help from a local man who had polio as a child and remembered feeling left out while watching other children play. The club’s contest application noted the resident offered to transport the playground equipment at no cost to the club, using his personal trucking company equipment.
A local family whose son has Joubert Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder, also supported the playground project. In a letter that accompanied the club’s contest entry, the family wrote, “Since three months old, Blaine has been in physical, occupational and speech therapy and has made some great strides in his coordination and strength. Play and peer relationships are also such important parts of development. What an all-inclusive playground will mean for us is that Blaine will be able to explore and wander the playground independently, he will have more opportunities to be engaged with other children and hopefully make a new friend.”
The family noted their child would be able to use the playground equipment independently and play with his siblings and others. “When we talk about the park with Blaine and show him pictures of what is coming, he gets excited and will give a shrieking shout of “Yay!” and then tap his chest and say, “Me too, I can do it, I can play.”
Plans call for the playground to be installed on Kiwanis One Day on Oct. 24, 2021. The club plans to begin construction on April 1 of next year, in tandem with the city’s construction of a new handicap accessible restroom facility.
The disruption of the coronavirus pandemic has been tough on everyone including kids. As children safely resume outdoor play, each child will experience the playground differently. For kids with sensory processing challenges—5 to 16% of school-aged children—regulating their bodies and emotions through play is especially critical.
For Sensory Awareness Month, which is in October, we’re sharing the importance of creating inclusive playground environments.
According to Virginia Spielmann, executive director at the STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder, for many kids with sensory processing difficulties, a traditional playground doesn’t offer the same opportunities to master physical challenges, gain social confidence or hone fine motor skills.
To highly sensitive children, the intense experiences of a playground like the spin of a merry-go-round or the tussle of kids on the monkey bars can feel like an assault on their senses. In other cases, children may seek out external stimulation.
“Kids may react strongly and with enthusiasm to this external simuli, or they may retreat,” explained Spielmann. “And often, they can’t match the motor skills of other children, which makes them feel even more different and isolated—especially on a traditional playground.”
The right play equipment can make all the difference. And today’s thoughtfully designed playgrounds have evolved into places that foster all-sensory experiences for every child.
At Landscape Structures, our product and playground designers are educated and interested in how kids with special needs experience the world, which informs their approach and designs—and makes an enormous difference in the final product.
That insight translates to subtle equipment details in materials, shapes, movement or orientation. For example, a playstructure with built-in tactile elements invites children to explore a variety of textures and shapes and helps them to integrate multiple tactile experiences.
There are many other ways that playground design can invite children of all abilities to play, explore and learn with confidence. Learn more about designing inclusive playgrounds to meet the needs of your community at playlsi.com. And learn more about sensory processing and how to help spread awareness for it at spdstar.org.
We are proud to partner with Shane’s Inspiration on a common goal of promoting play for children of all abilities. Together, we’ve created nearly 50 Universally Accessible Playgrounds including the first in Mexico and Ecuador.
Even more, we’re working with them to promote the animated short film, “Ian.” This powerful, Academy Award eligible film, aims to help children understand disability and spread the message of inclusion to every home. Tools to facilitate Q&A following the film can be found here.
Watch the film above, and please share it with the following message: Please watch and share the film “Ian” and help us create a more inclusive world! http://ow.ly/PyFR30mU6Di #InclusionRules_IanFilm @fundacionian @ShanesPlay #shapedbyplay
The joy of making music on the playground can now be enjoyed at any age. We’ve expanded the collection of Rhapsody® Outdoor Musical Instruments with six instruments that are a bit smaller and lower to the ground—sized just right for kids ages 2 to 5.
Rhapsody was originally introduced in January 2016, and has been a hit at playgrounds, community centers, schools, senior centers and more. That’s why we’ve added the junior Rhapsody instruments to the mix. This music playground activity is now ideal for
childcare centers, preschools and other early childhood facilities.
See below to learn more about the new junior-sized chimes, metallophones and drums:
Warble™ Chimes Kids can bing and bong their way along one full octave on this richly toned instrument.
Don’t forget… musical playgrounds welcome all ages and abilities! The original Rhapsody Outdoor Musical Instruments are perfect for kids and adults ages 5 and up. Add all 12 instruments to your play space to encourage multigenerational play.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Client: Government of Durango and Integral Development of the Family (DIF), Durango, Mexico
Designers: Pat Tacheny, playground designer at Landscape Structures, and Christine Brey, custom playground designer at Landscape Structures
Goal: In addition to creating a recreation space for the community to socialize and be active, another goal of the park revitalization was to create an inclusive space to welcome individuals of all abilities. The inclusive playground design includes an extensive ramping system, activity panels and playground components to deliver various sensory experiences. Plus, a playground bridge was personalized to mimic the famous Baluarte Bridge. The real bridge connects the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Northern Mexico, while the playground bridge encourages kids of all abilities to connect with each other.
Visit playlsi.com to read more about how the Government of Durango and DIF designed a play environment to help create an inclusive society.
Goal: Create an inclusive destination to welcome children and families of all abilities
Solution: To create an inclusive play environment, a PlayBooster® playstructure with an extensive ramping system was installed. The ramps allow kids using wheelchairs or other mobility devices to get to the highest levels on the playground, and there are playground activities like the Rollerslide and Sway Fun® glider along the way. Set apart from the main playstructures are even more opportunities for inclusive play. And to tie in with the nearby Miracle League baseball field, custom baseball roofs were included.
Visit playlsi.com to read more about how the City of Ankeny Parks and Recreation department partnered with community organizations to bring a unique recreation experience to the kid of Ankeny as well as surrounding communities.