Spinning into New Orleans

tradeshow-graphic

The ASLA Annual Meeting & Expo kicks off tomorrow in New Orleans, and we’re looking forward to connecting with everyone. If you’re attending, join us for the following:

  1. Opening General Session. We’re excited to sponsor a discussion with two of the most influential thinkers and practitioners of landscape architecture’s past 50 years. Join us on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 8 a.m. CST for Shared Wisdom: Legacy, Practice, and Partnership.
  2. EXPO. Take a spin around the EXPO, and be sure to visit us in booth #1221 on Saturday and Sunday for a play break. And check out Aquatix™ by Landscape Structures (formerly Aquatic Recreation Company) in booth #1233 to learn about the newest products for interactive water playgrounds.
  3. ASLA Student Awards Scholarships. Get a glimpse of the future of the profession. We’re pleased to provide scholarships to attend the annual meeting to these student leaders.

Additionally, stop by the LAF (Landscape Architecture Foundation) booth #100 to learn about its 50 & Forward Campaign. We are proud to support this campaign and its effort to expand existing programs and support new initiatives of the LAF.

Dreams becoming reality in Ottawa, Ill.

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.

LIncoln-Douglas-Park-freestanding_Ottawa-Kiwanis

Phase I

 

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.

LIncoln-Douglas-Park_Ottawa-Kiwanis

Phase II

 

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!

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.

Honoring champions of inclusive play

On Saturday, March 8, Shane’s Inspiration held its annual Gala Celebration at the Beverly Hills Hotel Crystal Ballroom. Themed An Evening of Motown, attendees came together to help raise funds for Shane’s Inspiration and their inclusion programming in addition to celebrating three amazing champions of inclusive play.

Shane's Inspiration's Annual Gala celebrated champions of inclusive play.

Former Vice President of Ecuador Lenin Moreno was presented with the Inspiration Award for his work in advancing social inclusion and bringing the first inclusive playground to Ecuador. The 8,880 square-foot inclusive playground, which opened on Nov. 22, 2013, features playground equipment specifically designed to promote integration among children of all abilities.

Additionally, Universal Studios Hollywood’s Discover a Star Foundation received the Community Leadership Award for its work of providing financial assistance to neighboring nonprofits linked to children’s causes and homeless intervention, and Richard D. Kessler was honored with the Humanitarian Award for his strong community involvement and support of Shane’s Inspiration.

Congratulations to all of these champions of inclusive play! Learn more about Shane’s Inspiration, their social inclusion programming and lots more by visiting shanesinspiration.org.

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.

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.