The best of 2018

Centre

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.

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.

First inclusive playground opens in Russia

On Monday, Feb. 10, we celebrated from afar the grand opening of the first inclusive playground in Russia. The inclusive playground was installed in association with the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi.

This is the first inclusive playground to be installed in Russia.

We worked with our partner in inclusive play, Shane’s Inspiration, to design the inclusive play space. In addition to being fully inclusive, the playground offers a nature-inspired play experience with log steppers, climbers that mimic logs and boulders, and a tree house. The nature-inspired features along with the sensory- and accessible-focused playground components help to welcome children of all abilities.

Sensory and accessible playground components will help welcome children and families of all abilities to play.

This is the second Olympics-related inclusive playground in which Shane’s Inspiration and we’ve been involved—the first was installed in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Learn more about the project, and see photos here.

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.

Inclusion in Ecuador

Cuenca, Ecuador, is home to the first inclusive playground in the entire country!

As we mentioned last month, our partnership with Shane’s Inspiration helped us bring the first inclusive playground to Ecuador! On Friday, Nov. 22, Paúl Granda López, Mayor of Cuenca, our president, Pat Faust, and the team from Shane’s Inspiration celebrated the grand opening of the 8,880 square-foot inclusive playground. The event welcomed more than 200 children of all abilities, many who were experiencing swinging and playgrounds for the very first time in their lives!

Former Vice President Lenin Moreno, an extraordinary champion for the rights of people with disabilities, initiated the concept of the inclusive playground, inspired by his own personal journey as a paraplegic and his discovery of the healing power of laughter and play therapy.

Read more about the inclusive playground in Cuenca as well as the social inclusion workshop that Shane’s Inspiration held for more than 80 university students majoring in special education.

Laying the foundation for change

Kids in Cuenca, Ecuador, point out what they're most excited for in the inclusive playground.

Our partnership with Shane’s Inspiration, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children with disabilities, has allowed us to positively impact many children, families and entire communities. And we’re excited to say that our partnership is helping bring inclusive play to Ecuador! In a matter of weeks, the Municipality of Cuenca will open its first inclusive playground (the first in the entire country!), which will help promote integration among children of all abilities.

Learn more about the project and see a few in-progress photos from our friends at Shane’s Inspiration.

Acceptance of all…in a lunch box

As many students and teachers head back to school, it’s important to think about inclusion in the classroom as well as on the playground. Socialization at school can often be struggle for children with special needs, and their isolation may have a damaging effect. That’s why Shane’s Inspiration created the online Inclusion Lunch Box program.

What's in your school's lunch box?

The Inclusion Lunch Box program is an interactive elementary school program that promotes social inclusion and reduces bullying toward children with disabilities. The program works in a simple, three-step process:

  1. Students between grades 3 and 6 participate in a 60-minute ability awareness workshop, during which they use written and hands-on exercises and group discussion to explore common misconceptions and perceptions about disabilities. They learn to distinguish between fact and fiction.
  2. Students with and without special needs are then paired at an inclusive playground to spend the day playing with and learning about each other. Using a variety of toys/games/activities, children of all abilities are supported as they connect.
  3. In a post play date workshop in the classroom, students consider how their perceptions shifted about themselves and people with disabilities. Following the initial program, teachers can continue educating students about ability awareness throughout the year via humanities-based activities.

Help teach your students about inclusion with the online program from Shane's Inspiration.

We support this program of Shane’s Inspiration, and their efforts to make it available to elementary schools throughout North America. Available for download at shanesinspiration.org/education, the Inclusion Lunch Box program includes step-by-step guides and materials to facilitate classroom and playground workshops, plus a follow-up academic curriculum. Even more, Shane’s Inspiration staff is available for ongoing support to teachers and administrators.