Celebrating Kiwanis One Day 2014

Tomorrow is Kiwanis One Day 2014, an event when Kiwanis members unite to complete hands-on community service projects around the globe. To celebrate all the work Kiwanis members do on One Day, and throughout the year, we’re reflecting on how our partnership has already allowed us to make a difference in many communities.

After two days of construction, two new school playgrounds were ready for students in Vancouver.

In June 2013, we worked together with Kiwanis and their collegiate service organization, Circle K International (CKI), to install playground equipment at two elementary schools in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Additionally, we awarded $25,000 in playground equipment to the Iola Kiwanis Club in Iola, Kansas, as part of our Make a Difference Through Play contest. The club will install the community’s first inclusive playground this month!

Kids in Iola, Kan., will benefit from the inclusive playground the Iola Kiwanis intends to build with the $25,000 award.

Learn more about our partnership with Kiwanis International, and connect with your local Kiwanis club to learn about volunteer opportunities and more.

Guest Blog: Preparing for our community build

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. We’re happy to share another update from Michael Ford, member of Iola Kiwanis and community resource officer for the Iola Police Department.

The design for the Iola Kiwanis club's inclusive playground.

Our last update was in mid-December, and plans for our inclusive playground have been moving fast since then. Our fundraising got a big boost at the end of 2013 through a couple of grants and individual donors, and now we’re moving quickly towards the installation.

We’re hoping to install the playground on April 5-6, during Kiwanis International’s One Day—weather depending, of course. And will build the playground with the help of community volunteers. Groups within the community have come to us to ask if they can participate. We’ve got volunteers from a local bank and church, the police station, the M.O.M.S. group as well as their friends and family, and the Iola Kiwanis Club. Even more than helping with the manual labor, people are offering to help with lunches and even the Girl Scouts are hoping to be there to help cheer on the rest of the volunteers.

Our playground consultant from ATHCO, L.L.C. and the Iola Parks and Recreation Department have helped coordinate the installation, and we’re targeting a two-day build. Following the build, we’ll tackle the site work and surfacing installation. Everyone in Iola—from kids to adults—is excited to see this project come together and looking forward to playing on the inclusive playground this spring.

Happy New Year!

With the arrival of the New Year, it’s a great time for us to look back on 2013. We’re honored, along with our playground consultants, to collaborate with you on playground projects and proud of what we’ve accomplished together. Check out just a few of the happenings from 2013 in the following list:

A glimpse of a few of our accomplishments throughout 2013.

  • Introduced exciting new products—Pulse™, We-saw™ and three site furnishings collections—in January.
  • Steve King, cofounder of Landscape Structures, unveiled his book A Legacy of Play, which documents the more than 40-year history of the company.
  • Announced our new partnership with Kiwanis International, and kicked off a contest to help bring play to communities around the world. Our winner was the Iola Kiwanis club in Iola, Kan., which is currently fundraising for their inclusive playground.
  • Barb King (1946-2008), cofounder of Landscape Structures, was inducted into the Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame, which honors women entrepreneurial leaders who represent 150 years of Minnesota business history.
  • Introduced new signature designs including the Eclipse Net® Plus, Hillscape Adventure and GeoNetrix.
  • Hosted occupational therapists for a playground tour throughout the Twin Cities metro during the AOTA Specialty Conference.
  • Collaborated with Washington D.C. Parks and Recreation to renovate playgrounds throughout the city.
  • Completed our 18th inclusive playground project with The Miracle League.
  • Installed a SpongeBob-themed playground at Enterprise Elementary School in Enterprise, Fla., which was the grand prize of the 2012 Nickelodeon “I Wanna Play” Sweeps.
  • Reconnected with, and met new, parks and recreation professionals at our party at Lucky Strike Lanes during the NRPA Congress & Exposition in Houston.
  • Attended the ASLA Annual Meeting & Expo in Boston at which our booth, featuring GeoNetrix, was voted by landscape architects as Best Visual Appeal.
  • Celebrated with our partner, Shane’s Inspiration, the grand opening of the first inclusive playground in the country of Ecuador.

In less than two weeks, we’ll continuing celebrating a great 2013 with our playground consultants from around the world when they arrive in Minnesota for our Annual Sales Meeting. Stay tuned for announcements of our new catalog, products and more in the upcoming weeks!  Want to be the first to hear about them? Sign up for our e-newsletters or subscribe to receive notifications of new blog posts by email.

Guest Blog: The importance of inclusive play

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. We’re happy to share another update from Michael Ford, member of Iola Kiwanis and community resource officer for the Iola Police Department.

The M.O.M.S. group has been a great help in planning the inclusive playground. They’re excited about the playground, but even more excited for the opportunity to educate the community about their children with special needs. During a recent fundraiser, each of the moms brought something to display about their child. Then in the presentation, they talked about how the inclusive playground would benefit their child with special needs in addition to their typically developing children.

The inclusive playground in Iola gives parents an opportunity to educate the community about the special needs of their children.

Iola is a town of 5,600 people in a county of 14,000. And out of the three surrounding counties, we’re the only one with a Wal-Mart. People from the tri-county area visit Iola for many reasons—a shopping trip, our parks, swimming competitions. And soon, our new inclusive playground. The nearest inclusive playgrounds are in Wichita, Kansas City and Joplin, all of which are about a two-hour drive away. So when parents hear about our inclusive playground, I definitely think they’ll visit Iola to give their kids a chance to play.

The design for the Iola Kiwanis club's inclusive playground.

I don’t want to say “If you build it, they’ll come,” but I think that’s the case. With the way the design is, every kid can play on this playground. I think people will be coming here; Iola will become a stop for many families.

Michael, the Iola Kiwanis club and the entire community of Iola have been busy fundraising for the inclusive playground since winning the Make a Difference through Play contest. And congratulations to the entire team are in order. As of earlier this month, Iola Kiwanis secured two additional grants—one from the Kansas Health Foundation and another from KaBOOM!—for the playground to bring them within about $15,000 of their fundraising goal!

Stay tuned for another update from Michael next month. He’ll talk more about the benefits of the partnership between Kiwanis International and Landscape Structures.

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.

Guest Blog: Gaining community support for your playground project

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.

We started gaining support for our inclusive playground project during the Make a Difference Through Play contest. The contest took place on Facebook so we were able to easily spread the word through the Iola Kiwanis club Facebook page, various community pages and each of our personal pages. With family and friends spread far and wide, we literally had support coming from around the world.

When we entered the contest many people said, “What are the odds that little Iola, Kan., can win this contest?” But the power of social media showed that anything is possible. With our online outreach and word-of-mouth spreading through the community, we secured enough votes to get our project to the top of the list. After winning the contest and sharing our plans for the inclusive playground—including plans to have the project completed by April 2014—we were concerned that we would be confronted by naysayers, but we’ve had nothing but support.

Inclusive playgrounds mean more than just accessible.

Top: OmniSpin® spinner; Middle Left: Oodle® Swing; Middle Right: Cozy Dome®; Bottom: Sensory Play Center®

To help increase community involvement, we included the M.O.M.S. group and physical therapist from school to help our Kiwanis club create a truly inclusive playground design. While I was thinking wheelchair accessibility, they helped educate our group on the need for sensory play panels, playground spinners and swings, as well as quiet areas where kids with autism or sensory processing disorders can take a “time out” if necessary.

While we move forward finalizing the design, we’re analyzing our site and creating an overall blueprint of the project. We’re also beginning to work more closely with the Iola Parks Department as they will be heavily involved with the installation and maintenance of the playground.

Stay tuned for another update from Michael next month. He’ll talk more in depth about designing an inclusive playground.