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INNOVATION GUIDE 2019 W W W. N R PA . O R G

2019 INNOVATION GUIDE Inventive Paths to Access | Fighting for a Remedy | Connecting Cities Through Nature


Shaped by play.

At Landscape Structures, we believe playstructures should complement their surroundings. But more than that, they should complement childhood. Every aesthetic choice is also

Shown here: Paco Sanchez Park, Denver Learn the story behind this amazing new playground at playlsi.com/paco.

backed by evidence to challenge, excite and energize kids of all abilities. Because better play shapes kids into better adults.

Š2019 Landscape Structures Inc. All rights reserved.


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Shaped by Play Play will always shape us

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lay has an invaluable role in encouraging child development. But, play isn’t just one thing. It’s an invitation to explore, learn and grow. Play opens up a world of possibilities. Play — on a playground, in a soccer game or at an art studio — teaches kids how not only to exist together, but also to accept people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. In other words, play helps shape kids into thinkers, dreamers and leaders. Above and beyond these life lessons, it’s on the playground that children learn persistence, leadership, competition, bravery, support and empathy. Play is fun and physically beneficial, of course. Play is also an organic form of learning. For years, the campaign for more play has revolved around battling the childhood obesity epidemic. However, play is important for more than just physical development. Play helps shape children’s cognitive, motor and social skills, in addition to supporting leadership development, teaching tolerance, spurring creativity, promoting problem-solving and diligence, and regulating emotions. Play is a learning opportunity. And, that’s why it’s important to offer free playtime to children of all ages and abilities. To date, playgrounds have been largely overlooked as settings for development. However, research suggests children’s early experiences and the settings they inhabit play a powerful role in helping them become healthy and effective thinkers, leaders and collaborators. Playgrounds can be deliberately designed to encourage children’s engage

ment in developmentally significant forms of play. They provide space for children to blend pretense and social play with physical activity; children can run around while “fighting dragons” or swing from the play equipment like monkeys, exercising their social, cognitive and physical skills all at once. Even more, well-designed playgrounds provide for children with diverse needs and levels of ability. Toddlers who are learning to walk can find a physical challenge in climbing a few stairs, while skillful 10-yearolds can find an equally exciting challenge in clambering to the top of a play structure. Children can take advantage of open spaces to engage in socially and linguistically complex pretend scenarios, but also find a quiet nook in which to privately create elaborate stories. In order to create a playground design that ensures kids will make time for free play, it’s important to remember that play is a trial run of adulthood.

It’s a way for kids to discover and practice all the skills they’ll need in the future. Collaborate with your designer to create playgrounds so that kids of all abilities can practice their leadership skills and learn to accept people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. Learn more about Landscape Structures’ commitment to shaping the lives of children through play by watching their newest video, Play Will Always Shape Us, at shapedbyplay.com. While there, you can download a video discussion guide, as well as copies of research whitepapers.

www.playlsi.com 888.438.6574

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Contents Features 4 10 14 18

The Path More Traveled Innovation, Conservation, Restoration Knocking Out Parkinson’s with Rock Steady Boxing Jakes Way Community: Creating Access, Overcoming Barriers

Company Profiles

1 Landscape Structures Inc. 2 Learning Landscapes Design 3 Classic Recreation Systems, Inc. 7 Aquatix by LSI 8 Greenfields Outdoor Fitness 9 Columbia Cascade Company 9 ForeverLawn 13 Superior Recreational Products/ PlayCore 22 Milbank

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Innovative Playscapes: Designed to Grow

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reating engaging kid spaces that consider playground safety and maintenance can feel like an extreme balancing act. At Learning Landscapes Design, we’ve learned a lot from working on nature play areas across the country. Here are five strategies for success: 1. Engage youth in the design process. They bring fresh creativity. 2. Design for every child’s development by including physical, imaginative, social and sensory-play opportunities. 3. Understand how to apply playground standards. 4. Make inclusive design a central feature, not a last-minute add-on. 5. Give your maintenance team tools for success. Learning Landscapes Design has a full management and inspection program. www.learninglandscapesdesign.com 971.266.0403

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Learning Landscapes Design

learninglandscapesdesign.com

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Structural Integrity

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he Northwest Model’s striking clerestory design creates a modern look with classic lines. The variable roof pitch and large opening provide unparalleled ventilation, yet still protect occupants from the elements with its heavy-duty engineering and geometry. Classic Recreation’s shade structures only use U.S. steel and the highest-quality zinc primer to prevent rust and SuperDurable powder coat for a long-lasting, fade-resistant finish. *Classic Recreation Systems Inc. is a member of BuyBoard® Cooperative Purchasing

www.classicrecreation.com 800.697.2195

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The Path More Traveled Three Rivers Park District wins 2019 Innovation in Park Design Award By Lindsay Collins

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ow do you design and construct a nature-based, 15-mile-long regional trail through fully developed cities comprised of homes and businesses? This was the question posed by Three Rivers Park District (Minnesota) when it set out to create a trail that would connect the citizens it serves to numerous communities, resources and nature by removing transportation barriers.

The result is Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail, an off-road, 10-foot-wide, paved, multiuse trail that spans five cities, connecting each to the park district’s 160-mile regional trail network. Three Rivers Park District It also profor Nine Mile Creek

NRPA’s 2019 Innovation in

PAARwKardDWEinSnIeGr N

Providing Community Solutions

vides connections from neighborhoods to job centers, schools, libraries, churches, parks and more. “The trail is also a destination unto itself, with more than 1.7 miles of boardwalks traversing long stretches of wetlands and its namesake creek,” says John Gunyou, chair of the Three Rivers Board of Commissioners. The newly developed

PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF THREE RIVERS PARK DISTRICT

Regional Trail

trail provides a safe environment for walkers, runners, bicyclists and dog walkers to travel throughout the region.

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“As a lifelong resident of Edina, it always bothered me that we didn’t have sidewalks, let alone a trail system in our community,” says Phillip Holm, community member of Edina, Minnesota, one of the cities connected by the trail. “I learned to ride a bike in a street, as did my children. Going for walks with my wife also required walking in the street. The closest thing to nature was our neighbors’ lawns.” A survey conducted by the city of Edina showed that Holm was not the only community member with concerns about the lack of access to nature and safe space for walking, running or biking. “[The survey] had identified development of a trail network as the community’s most desired facility addition,” says Jonathan Vlaming, associate superintendent of planning, design and technology for Three Rivers Park District. “Our own research has also shown that 90 percent of existing and potential bicyclists strongly prefer biking on offThree Rivers Park District’s Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail spans highways and wetlands to connect five cities to work, play, shopping, transit and more.


road trails as compared to using streets. Several of the communities had no off-road east/ west trail prior to this project.” With the trail project, the agency set out to address two primary goals. The first was to provide useful connections to work, play, shopping, transit and the greater regional trail network. The second goal was to create a nature-based recreation destination trail. And, the agency had in mind two additional objectives in the creation of the trail: maximizing the safety of users and developing strong partnerships with local communities and regional agencies.

Lessons Learned The process required Three Rivers Park District staff to think outside the box to address the roadblocks that arose throughout. By the end, they had identified three major takeaways: 1. Wetlands are an amenity, not a barrier. “When routing the trail, we had two basic choices: have the trail follow circuitous but existing road right-of-way or have the trail traverse wetlands, using boardwalks built above the 100-year floodplain,” says Vlaming. Ultimately, the agency decided to go with the more direct route over the wetlands, which brings the natural environment into the trail users’ experience.

Bicyclists use the Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail as a safe alternative to riding on streets.

2. Recreational trails are also commuter trails — and can be funded the same way. Since the agency purposefully routed the trail to transit and employment centers, it was able to cover the cost through federal transportation grants. 3. Respect and support your trail neighbors. “Building a trail in an urban area will result in the trail being built adjacent to some people’s front yards and other people’s backyards,” says Vlaming. In order to ensure neighbors were not negatively impacted,

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the agency developed a citizen’s assessment committee, held two public hearings and funded the planting of trees and building of fences for adjacent neighbors who were concerned about privacy.

Making a Difference Speaking about the impact the trail has made, community member Holm states, “The trail introduced the community to the joys of having a safe offroad trail for biking and walking. It gives us access to the public lands along Nine Mile Creek, which previously had been hidden away behind peoples’ homes.” Usership of the trail shows that many others in the communities served are also appreciating the benefits 6

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it provides. Research staff at Three Rivers Park District have projected use to be more than 400,000 visits annually, and early numbers appear to match this estimate. Currently, the agency is conducting a comprehensive trail visitor study that measures satisfaction, perceptions of crowding and safety, and provides a method for obtaining community input for potential improvements. So far, community testimonials show that the trail is meeting its intended goals and subsequently improving quality of life for the residents of the communities it touches. “For me personally, the trail really has made a difference,” says Holm. “As a heart patient, my doctor — and wife — con-

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The Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail brings users closer to nature by incorporating wetlands into the trail experience.

vinced me of the importance of exercise. I’m now biking on the Nine Mile Trail every chance I get, and I am loving it. It is so great to be able to cross [the highways] with a dedicated trail bridge instead of having to use the regular road shoulder. I can go further, and the creek makes it so much more interesting.” For more information about Three Rivers Park District’s Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail, visit www.threeriversparks.org/location /nine-mile-creek-regional-trail. Lindsay Collins is the Associate Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine (lcollins@nrpa.org).


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Leading the Way in Water Activities

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un and water go together like kids and play, creating the perfect spot where friends can gather, cool off and experience the wonders of playing in water. Aquatix by Landscape Structures leads the way. Pioneering experiential activities around the interactive properties of water, we invite kids and family members of all ages and abilities to immerse themselves in the brilliance of an Aquatix water experience. With more than 30 years of experience, Aquatix, based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, is a leader in water feature and spray park design, fabrication and construction. The company designs and manufactures products and systems for easy maintenance and

long-lasting value. But, it’s innovative concepts and groundbreaking design that truly set Aquatix apart. Our dynamic aqua play products engage kids’ imaginations, encourage exploration and deliver surprising new experiences with water. Aquatix continues to advance the world of dynamic aqua play with imaginative designs — achieving new levels of chilling thrills, challenging interactive games and inventive water-based activities. The HydraHub1 and HydraHub2 inspire active play among children of all ages. A combination of dynamic play, interactive play and ground sprays deliver fluid fun that’s full of surprises. The AquaGather Station is an interactive water table that encourages kids

of all ages and abilities to socialize while they discover the many possibilities of cause and effect. The AquaGather Station is fun and functional for all individuals. aquatix.playlsi.com 877.632.0503

Oh, the endless days! Gathered together Reveling in the joy of play. Where watery wonders excite us Unite us And invite us to set our imaginations free.

©2019 Landscape Structures Inc. All rights reserved.

To learn more and inspire your outdoors, visit aquatix.playlsi.com.

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Creating Healthy Communities

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ring your community together in pursuit of healthier living with Greenfields Outdoor Fitness! Greenfields makes outdoor fitness fun and motivational by creating exercise areas that are social, multigenerational and inclusive. One of the most exciting concepts introduced to the public in recent years, Greenfields Outdoor Fitness units can be used by nearly anyone, regardless of ability or fitness level. In 2019, Greenfields expanded its product offerings to include several exciting new units, especially in the Functional Fitness line. This line now offers planners the ability to design their own one-of-a-kind fitness rigs, with more than two-dozen challenging activities to choose from! In addition, Greenfields debuted the Hexagon Extreme Functional Fitness Rig, featuring the newest functional fitness features, including the rotating pull-up wheel, flagpole and parallel bar. Combined with the other exciting components in the Functional Fitness lineup, Greenfields offers nearly limitless possibilities

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for providing the most challenging works to advanced users — all in their local parks! Greenfields has also maintained its commitment to inclusive fitness, adding the Shoulder Wheel to its line of wheelchair accessible units. Like many of Greenfields’ Signature Accessible units, the new Shoulder Wheel offers exercises for both the able-bodied and those with disabilities, creating the most inclusive exercise experience available. In parks all across the United States and beyond, users with physical disabilities are now able to work out on units specially designed for their needs, yet

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without having to be separate from other community members. With eight patented units and counting (U.S. Patent 9,079,069), Greenfields continues to lead in the way in inclusive fitness. In Greenfields’ Professional Series line, three new units — including a hand cycle, recumbent cycle and upright cycle — provide cardio opportunities. With the addition of a Tai-Chi wheel, the Professional Series has broadened to include more than 20 units. Rounding out Greenfields’ diverse product offerings is the Core Line, enjoyed in a vast number of parks throughout North America and the Caribbean. The Core Line harnesses users’ body weight to provide resistance, thereby conforming to the fitness level of the individual. The Core Line is also highly social, giving friends and family members — even of different generations — the ability to exercise in the same environment regardless of ability level. Rugged in their design and construction, the Core Line units perform well, even in challenging environments. With so many options to choose from, and a large variety of packages to fit any environment, Greenfields Outdoor Fitness is helping bring fun, social fitness to outdoor spaces, continually pursuing its mission of “promoting wellness and fighting obesity one community at a time.”

greenfieldsfitness.com 888.315.9037


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The First Name in Wood for Play

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ore than 50 years ago, the “Playground Revolution” was initiated by TimberForm® designs. The form and function of contemporary play facilities were immediately and forever transformed. Today’s finest play structures and accessories evolved from radically new concepts originated by TimberForm. RePlay® Play Areas feature many of the same elements as TimberForm, but replace the timber members with environmentally friendly, 100 percent recycled post-consumer plastic posts and beams. Specifying RePlay can also help achieve LEED® Credits for Recycled Content. More than 100 pre-designed Play Areas appear on our website, but, sometimes, a very different solution

is desired or required. With talented and experienced staff, Columbia Cascade has always been at the forefront in the creation of custom Play Areas that address your specific needs, styles and/or budget considerations. Trained staff are available to assist the professional recreator or designer in creating a site-specific custom play facility. Accessibility to all players is now a prime consideration in the playground equipment selection process and Columbia Cascade has long been active in the design and production of play structures that serve the needs of all children. The Federal Americans with Disabilities Act has made accessibility for all children a key consideration in playground de-

TimberForm Triple Arch Climber, Classic TimberForm play area in background.

sign and equipment selection. In addition to playground equipment, Columbia Cascade also produces a complete line of site furnishings, bicycle parking solutions and outdoor fitness equipment. www.TimberForm.com 800.547.1940

The Ultimate Playground Surface

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f you are looking for the best value in a playground surface that will last longer, need less maintenance and improve play, the choice is easy. No other surface compares to Playground Grass™ by ForeverLawn®. All of their synthetic turf Playground Grass products and safety systems meet and exceed the recommended ASTM and IPEMA certifications. Other loose fill playground surface options, such as mulch, sand or gravel, can be very messy and difficult to maintain. Playground Grass provides a lush, beautiful low-maintenance surface backed by a 10-year warranty. Playground Grass passes all ADA-accessibility tests in the real

world and in the lab, meaning that wheelchairs and mobility devices can easily roll across the surface, contributing to an inclusive play environment. Playground Grass Ultra is one of the products in the ForeverLawn premium product line. Ultra has antistatic technology built into the blades and is the only synthetic turf on the market with a patented process to disseminate static buildup, providing a safe and comfortable experience for kids with cochlear implants or other electronic medical devices. Playground Grass Ultra also includes antimicrobial technology that inhibits the growth of bacteria on the turf and is available in eight standard colors.

playgroundgrass.com 866.992.7876

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Innovation, Conservation, Restoration Metroparks Toledo wins 2019 Innovation in Conservation Award By Lindsay Collins

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he stress of water-quality issues is a concern well-known by many communities across the United States. One place that has become familiar with the problem is the area bordering Lake Erie, which battles water-quality issues from agricultural runoff in the watershed.

NRPA’s 2019 Innovation in

Such land-use issues affect not only human lives, but also animal populations. These changes were felt by the communities of the Toledo, Ohio, metropol-

CONAwSaErdRWVinAnTeIrON

PHOTO COURTESY OF TOLEDO AERIAL MEDIA

Metroparks Toledo for Howard Marsh Metropark Conservation Project

itan area, home to part of the Lake Erie Birding Trail. The trail boasts nearly 400 species of birds (www.metroparkstoledo .com/outdoor-adventures/ birding) whose habits are being altered due to disappearing habitats. Metroparks Toledo, through its Howard Marsh Met-

ropark conservation project, is tackling these issues head-on, with its inventive and expansive solution to address several environmental concerns through habitat restoration, natural water-quality improvement, and public education and access.

Natural Solutions In 2008, Metroparks Toledo began its restoration project with the purchase of 987 acres of active farmland near the south shore of Lake Erie. By 2016,

The Howard Marsh Metropark features nearly 600 acres of restored welands, accessible to visitors via hiking trails and observation decks. 10

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF METROPARKS TOLEDO

the agency had completed plans to convert 700 acres of the land back into its original ecosystem to function as nature’s water filter: coastal wetland. “Preconstruction, a lot of the community runoff…was being discharged directly into Lake Erie without filtration,” says Denis Franklin, natural resource supervisor for Metroparks Toledo. “Now, post-construction… we’re taking that runoff and putting it directly into the wetland. There, it’s allowed to filter out, and eventually when we discharge that water, it will be a heck of a lot cleaner than when it came in here.” Since the completion of the project in March 2018, the land now offers 571 acres of restored coastal wetlands; 116 acres of upland habitat, including 12,000 newly planted trees and shrubs; 6 miles of deepwater channels for fish habitat and recreation, such as boating; a quarter-mile boardwalk; observation decks; and more

than 6 miles of new hiking trails. Thanks to the newly restored habitat, more than 300 species of migratory songbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl have been documented, drawing in many birding enthusiasts — an industry that generates millions of dollars for local economies.

Building the Base The Howard Marsh park project is a testament to Metroparks Toledo’s ability to engage external groups, organizations, individuals and the surrounding communities to contribute their various insights and services toward a shared goal. “The complexity of a project of this scope is truly remarkable,” says Tim Schetter, Ph.D., director of natural resources for Metroparks Toledo. “The project required the alteration of local ditches and drainage structures, mandating the active participation of the Lucas County Engineer, the Reno Beach/Howard Farms Conservancy District, the Lu-

Birding enthusiasts from across the country visit Howard Marsh Metropark to catch a glimpse of some of the 300 species of documented birds.

cas County Commissioners and the Jerusalem Township Board of Trustees.” In addition, a core project planning team was developed that consisted of Metroparks staff, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Ohio Division of Wildlife and two contracted engineering and design firms, with Metroparks Toledo’s director of natural resources serving as the lead project manager. The agency also initially faced hesitation from residents, who were concerned that changes to the landscape may exacerbate flooding. “By carefully vetting restoration plans with local, state and federal agencies tasked with flood prevention, Metroparks clearly demonstrated to the community over the course of several public meetings that these concerns were unfounded,” says Schetter. “Through

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF METROPARKS TOLEDO

Visitors to the park can take part in many outdoor activities, such as kayaking, fishing, birding, hiking and more.

collaboration with local officials and agencies, Metroparks was able to enhance local drainage by decommissioning an 80-yearold pump station and replacing it with two new state-of-the-art pump stations to direct flow into the new marsh, enhancing both drainage and water quality, and increasing safety from floods.” Kendra Wecker, chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, attests to Metroparks Toledo’s ability to leverage partnerships. “Metroparks Toledo did a superb job of bringing together major stakeholders. The restoration of Howard Marsh represents the power of partnerships…everyone wins.”

Thinking Ahead “At the core of Metroparks Toledo’s mission is protection and preservation of park natu12

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ral areas for future generations to enjoy,” says Franklin. It is apparent through the agency’s actions that it has put this mission at the center of its work. In 2019, it set aside $2 million in general operating funds to be dedicated solely to natural resources management to ensure that assets such as Howard Marsh are sustained, and continues to diversify its funding through grants, donations and the Metroparks Foundation to ensure the agency receives the resources required to manage and maintain its natural spaces. And, Metroparks Toledo knows the sustainability of the project cannot depend on the agency alone. For this reason, it educates the local citizens to be stewards of the land by conduct-

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ing programs, such as watercraft skills and bird identification. The agency also enlists the help of outside partners, who contribute to the longevity of the project by showcasing the success of the park. “For example, the park is now designated as a key destination in the Biggest Week in American Birding, an annual 10-week birding festival in northwest Ohio hosted by Black Swamp Bird Observatory. Ducks Unlimited conducts regular tours of the completed project with members and donors to demonstrate the significance of the restored wetlands and their key role in the design process,” Franklin explains. Dave Zenk, executive director of Metroparks Toledo, attributes the success of the project to the partnerships built throughout the process. “The fact of the matter is no one agency could have pulled this off. We were really fortunate to bring in all kinds of partners to make this possible.” With the help of others, Metroparks Toledo leads the way in innovation to continue to serve and strengthen the Toledo metropolitan area. To learn more about Metroparks Toledo’s Howard Marsh park project, visit www. metroparkstoledo.com/exploreyour-parks/howard-marsh. To see a video about the project, go to www.youtube.com/ watch?v=knZSn2FubxM. Lindsay Collins is the Associate Editor of Parks & Recreation magazine (lcollins@nrpa.org).


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Recycled Playgrounds

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hat’s better than a themed playground? A themed recycled playground. Superior Recreational Products can make any idea come to life with our themed recycled playground structures. In these playgrounds, the decks, posts and barriers are 100 percent recycled from post-consumer plastic products (like milk jugs!). These recycled components offer great durability while also being low maintenance. Being eco-friendly has never been so fun! By choosing a themed recycled structure, children will bring creativity and imagination to the playground. From exploring a treehouse to conducting a train, our team of creative designers will make your ideal playground possible. Complement any theme with our independent play pieces that carry the excitement throughout your play environment.

www.superiorrecreationalproducts.com 866.324.4522

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Knocking Out Parkinson’s with Rock Steady Boxing City of Port St. Lucie wins 2019 Innovation in Health Award and Overall Best in Innovation Award

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NRPA’s 2019 Innovation in

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City of Port St. Lucie Parks and Recreation for Rock Steady Boxing

arkinson’s disease — a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by symptoms such as tremors, muscle rigidity and gait and balance problems — affects more than 10 million people worldwide. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation (www. parkinson.org), nearly 1 million people in the United States will be living with Parkinson’s by 2020, and the likelihood of developing the disease increases with age. It is estimated that in the United States alone, the combined direct and indirect cost of Parkinson’s disease — including treatment, social security payments and lost income — is nearly $52 billion per year. As the seventh-largest city in Florida and an area with a large senior population, the city of Port St. Lucie was determined to find a way to help its residents with Parkinson’s. The City of Port St. Lucie Parks and Recreation Department attests that it was compassion that impelled it to respond to the community’s requests for services to assist in mitigating the effects of Parkinson’s disease by offering Rock Steady Boxing. Once it established that Rock Steady Boxing is a proven,

effective and proactive aid for those with Parkinson’s disease, the agency recognized the need to offer the program at an affordable rate to ensure individuals from all socioeconomic demographics within the community could participate. Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) — a non-contact, boxing-based fitness program — has been proven to slow the progression of Parkinson’s by strengthening muscles and creating new neuropaths, while exercise in general is known to improve mental health. According to Anne Stadius, recreation supervisorfitness for city of Port St. Lucie, “Exercises designed for those with Parkinson’s disease, while intense and challenging, build both confidence and strength in a nonjudgmental social environment.” After thorough research of the program and assessment of the community’s needs, the City of Port St. Lucie Parks and Recreation Department successfully implemented RSB to help improve the lives of community members living with Parkinson’s disease.

Getting Started Planning to bring the RSB program to the city of Port St. Lucie was two years in the

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PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF CITY OF PORT ST. LUCIE

By Lindsay Collins

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making before the program hit the ground running. Before committing, the City of Port St. Lucie Parks and Recreation staff needed to be certain there was a demand in the community for a Parkinson’s-based fitness program and that RSB was the best program to fit its needs. To begin, the department spoke with neurologists and physical therapists in the community to better understand what the community required. They then sent staff to a three-day RSB training, at which the staff learned hands-on about the program from other fitness professionals, physical therapists, senior living experts and boxing coaches. Staff also spoke with other agencies that were bringing RSB

to their communities to learn how it was being implemented in various places throughout the country. Since Parkinson’s disease has its own unique set of obstacles, staff felt it was important to vet programs that proved effective in stretching and strengthening muscles, improving both the slowness and quality of gait, and improving speech quality and volume. A proposal, thoroughly explaining Parkinson’s disease and the RSB therapy program for which the boxing therapy is best suited, was developed by city fitness center staff. The proposal served as a request for the resources required to develop the program, including equipment and funding to cer-

Participants of the city of Port. St Lucie’s Rock Steady Boxing program practice intense “forced” exercise to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

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tify coaches. With funding for the essentials secured, Port St. Lucie Parks and Recreation was determined to offer the program at a price that would allow for participation by all who would benefit, no matter their means. Within the first month of offering the program and without a formal marketing campaign, classes reached 75 percent capacity, confirming the need for providing fitness-based programming geared toward Parkinson’s disease management. Staff at the agency state that many of the personal training clients diagnosed with Parkinson’s had not heard of the RSB program, however, they did understand that exercise is medicine and were looking to pursue


One of the benefits of the RSB program is the sense of community and camaraderie participants gain.

a quality, guided exercise therapy. As the trainers researched and put into practice the methods of RSB, it became evident that those members of the community who were regularly receiving the training were reaping more benefits than those who were not practicing boxing training methods.

The Results Staff at the city of Port St. Lucie state that until a cure for Parkinson’s disease is found, any method of slowing its progression should be considered a success. And, the RSB program has done exactly that for its participants in Port St. Lucie. Not only are participants experiencing the physical benefits, but also they are gaining the mental benefits as well, thanks to the tight-knit community the program cultivates. “One of the novelties of RSB is the sense of social acceptance and community each group quickly develops,” says Stadius. “By design, this program is meant to be a challenging workout in a safe and comfortable setting, offering fun, friendship and quality-of-life improvements.” And, the participants are not the only people who are experiencing the benefits of RSB. The family members and friends of individuals afflicted with Parkinson’s report that they have increased feelings of hope after seeing the effects of the RSB program on their loved ones, and the coaches who are facilitating the

program also benefit from the sense of community developed through RSB. Staff at the city of Port St. Lucie say that many of the volunteers in the program have expressed their admiration and respect for the determination and resilience of the participants, and have further expressed how being able to assist and interact in the classes have improved their own quality of life. Individuals who have taken part in the program share the sentiments expressed by those on the City of Port St. Lucie Parks and Recreation staff. “I am constantly surprised that the format of each class somehow manages to address the specific areas that we as Parkinson’s disease patients need to address, such as balance, coordination, facial exercises, memory and brain tasks,” says one participant of Port St. Lucie’s RSB program, who selfidentifies as “fighter,” the name

participants of the program go by. The benefits of the program are exponentially positive in the camaraderie of the participants and the self-confidence they gain. Until a cure for Parkinson’s is discovered, the RSB program will remain an effective treatment to assist with slowing the progression of the disease, and the city of Port St. Lucie will help its residents with the disease through the program. “There is no doubt in my mind that this program works,” says one fighter. “I have seen improvements in not only myself, but all of my fellow boxers. I just want to say, ‘We are rock steady!’” To watch a video about the city of Port St. Lucie’s RSB program, visit www.yout u b e. c o m / wa t c h ? v = M 9 c D 8dZJi9Y. Lindsay Collins is the Associate Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine (lcollins@nrpa.org).

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Jakes Way Community: Creating Access, Overcoming Barriers City of Santa Clarita wins 2019 Innovation in Social Equity Award By Lindsay Collins

O

n the east side of town in the city of Santa Clarita, California, is Jakes Way, a densely populated, diverse neighborhood that spans foursquare blocks. Within those four blocks are majority City of Santa Clarita for non-English Jakes Way Neighborhood speaking, Program lowerincome families living in multiunit apartment complexes. Due to language, transportation, financial and cultural barriers, the residents of Jakes Way gen-

NRPA’s 2019 Innovation in

SOCAwIAarLd WEiQnnUerITY

erally have limited interaction with city staff and local services. Plagued by gangs, graffiti and crime, the community, in some years, has also experienced more arrests per capita than any other area in Santa Clarita. With no city park or recreation facility within reach for residents of the neighborhood, the city recognized the need to bring recreation and enrichment opportunities to Jakes Way. But, the question remained as to how to provide these opportunities without the necessary infrastructure in place. Thankfully, city staff were not content with letting these roadblocks stand in their way — if there was not

a space for recreation activities to take place, they would create one where it would be most accessible to residents. The city of Santa Clarita’s Recreation and Community Services Department approached the property manager of the largest apartment complex in the area about transforming a vacant apartment into a mini-community center to be used for afterschool programs, and the use of the playground area for events. The manager agreed and the apartment space now features recreation activities, a homework help area, library and meeting room. Now community members can easily access the resources they need.

Addressing Access

PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF CITY OF SANTA CLARITA

At the outset of the project, city staff identified three primary goals: enhance quality of life, provide recreation and enrichment for youth and families, and build trust with residents to increase participation in city programs and services. To start, the city needed to provide a

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Children in the Jakes Way neighborhood visit the apartment complex to take part in summertime activities. | 2 0 1 9 I N N O V AT I O N G U I D E | W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G


space that was physically accessible to the community, as many members have transportation barriers that limit their access to local city parks and facilities. “What makes our program innovative is we removed barriers facing residents by utilizing a non-traditional location to provide the resources they need right where they live,” says Hope Horner, community services administrator for the city of Santa Clarita. But, the space was only the first step toward overcoming barriers. Once residents had access to the programming, the next challenge was encouraging participation in all of the services offered. Through recreation opportunities that draw people in, such as arts, sports and music, the city is now able to make contact with

hard-to-reach residents to offer additional supportive services from local school staff, Sheriff ’s Deputies, healthcare workers and other service providers. “In the middle of an apartment or playground, parents can register their children for school, take a diabetes prevention workshop or practice conversational English, while their child finishes their homework, paints a mural or plays soccer,” says Horner. “This interaction builds trust and increases the chances that residents will participate in health activities, get to know their neighbors, receive supportive services, report crime and speak up about issues affecting their quality of life.”

Community Engagement In 2013, bilingual city staff en-

Members and partners of the Jakes Way neighborhood committee meet to plan events and brainstorm solutions to community issues.

couraged residents of Jakes Way to form a neighborhood committee, which has become the driving force for change in the community. The group regularly meets in the apartment to discuss community issues, brainstorm solutions and plan neighborhood programs and events. City staff has also worked alongside volunteers, school representatives and nonprofit staff to reach the goals they had initially set out to achieve, with more than 25 agencies partnering to offer services over the years, including the California Tutoring Academy, the Santa Clarita Child and Family Cen-

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ter, Cal Arts, local churches, Golden Valley High School staff and the Domestic Violence Center, among others.

Positive Impacts “I’ve seen the positive impacts of this program with the kids,” says Shannon Celaya, a Jakes Way outreach program volunteer. “They are doing better in school and their parents now have a way of asking us for help on certain subjects or concerns that they can’t or don’t know how to address due to language barriers.” This sentiment is supported by research conducted during the Recreation activities in the apartment are readily available for children and teens in the community.

summer of 2018, which noted three findings: the playground area became a safe space for families to play, residents became empowered to speak up to apartment managers about neighborhood issues and parents formed a social network with each other in the heart of the neighborhood for the first time. “I also feel as if the neighborhood is cleaner and safer,” says Celaya. “I haven’t spotted graffiti on the premises in a while, and if it is spotted, it’s immediately removed. The community does feel stronger and more united as one.” Again, the numbers support Celaya’s feelings. Graffiti has been reduced by 25 percent in the area, and part one crime — the FBI’s designation

City of Santa Clarita staff gather with partners and residents of Jakes Way at a council meeting.

for serious crimes that plague society — was down 20 percent overall in Santa Clarita in 2018 compared to 2017, and one has to think that the efforts in Jakes Way had a part in reducing those numbers. The city of Santa Clarita attests that the sustainability of the project is thanks to the community partners, who are dedicated to helping the agency accomplish its goals. The Park Sierra apartment complex community manager, Sara Nemit, says, “Some people told me there was nothing we could do for this community. I wanted to change that…my objective is to work with the city and others to bring a sense of community to the residents at Park Sierra, and let them know they are not forgotten or overlooked. They know they matter, and their homes and families matter.” To learn more about the city of Santa Clarita’s Jakes Way Neighborhood Program, visit www. santa-clarita.com/outreach. Lindsay Collins is the Associate Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine (lcollins@nrpa.org).

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A PEACEFUL RETREAT

Unlimited Play’s Quiet Grove is an inclusive product that offers a haven for children

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SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

More Power for Your Park solutions for campgrounds and parks: pedestals, direct-bury and pad-mounted power outlets, and accompanying accessories providing power distribution for campgrounds, RV parks and mobile homes. Available in many sizes, including meter mains that offer up to 10 branch circuits and up to three receptacles, Milbank pedestals can be both metered and unmetered based on customer needs. Whether you need basic power pedestals for campsites or maximum load capabilities for a high-end RV resort, Milbank has the pedestal for it. Milbank’s enclosed controls can be customized to fit your needs and create a solution for any situation. For more information, please visit milbankworks.com.

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Parks & Recreation

tion controls, vendor event and remote-site power without the use of unsightly strut or backboard systems. For ballpark lighting, Milbank’s enclosed controls include features, such as timers and push-button starts. The equipment is capable of four separate remote buttons, ideal for larger tennis court and baseball field complexes. Custom components can be added for additional loads, such as concession stands, scoreboards and utility sheds. If you’re hosting an outdoor concert, fair, swap meet or other season festival, Milbank can design custom commercial pedestals to tackle electrical distribution logistics. And with features like in-use covers, you can connect cords to all loads while keeping the cabinet locked and secure. Milbank also offers a wide range of

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Advertiser Index Aquatix by LSI..........................................................7

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Landscape Structures Inc.................................C2

Learning Landscapes Design............................. 2

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Playworld...............................................................C4 Shade Systems..................................................... 24

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CHAMPION’S FEEL THE T H R I L L TREK Miracle is leading the way in creative, fitness course design with the new Champion’s Trek. Its modular components and unstructured design encourage children to choose their challenge level. Obstacle-course play makes this product engaging and fun. Champion’s Trek is designed to work with existing Miracle products, making it a perfect addition to your playground.

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THE SKY’S THE LIMIT

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Playworld Systems, Inc. is a PlayPower, Inc. company. Š2019 PlayPower, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Parks & Recreation Magazine Innovation Guide 2019  

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