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PLAYGROUND GUIDE 2019 WWW.NRPA.ORG

2019 PLAYGROUND GUIDE

Safe, Accessible Play Surfaces | A Youth-Designed Vision for Play | Innovative CPSIs


PLAY HAS NO LIMIT ® gametime.com | 800.235.2440


SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

Modern City® by GameTime Inspired Design for Inspired Play Inspired by modern architecture and intended to create more opportunities for physical activity, Modern City® is a new approach to playground design. From the 5-inchsquare steel tubing towering 16 feet into the sky, to the signature aluminum shrouds that protect the patented connection system, Modern City is a visual statement for any park or playground. With multitiered surfaces, challenging climbers and ground-level activities built right into the uprights, Modern City packs plenty of play in a compact design. It’s a modern approach for modern cities at play.

An Innovative Play Experience The open feel invites the entire family into the play space, and despite its compact footprint, it provides maximum play value per square foot. There are plenty of entry and climbing points, varied routes of travel throughout the system and multiple levels of play. We included a transfer system for accessibility — an all-new design with climbers and grips for users of all abilities. We also added fun motion activities at ground-level, accessible height. Every detail of Modern City was designed to be functional, developmentally beneficial and, most importantly — FUN.

A Material Approach to Material Design To ensure Modern City is equally at home in a rural green space or a vibrant city park, we selected durable, vandal-resistant and easy-to-maintain materials. Stainless steel and aluminum are the primary components, including the climbers, slides and connection hardware. Rotationally molded plastic slides are also available in our full range of color options.

A Study in Function and Form

ties to provide developmental benefits such as positive risk-taking, balance and coordination and social interaction in a beautiful design for your park or playground. Available as complete systems for ages 2 to 5 or 5 to 12, and with optional freestanding climbers, slides and swings, Modern City is a beautiful, scalable play solution for any space or budget. Learn more at gametime.com/modern-city or call 800.235.2440.

www.gametime.com/modern-city 800.235.2440

We leveraged nearly a century of play research and product development to create age-appropriate activi-

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Contents Features 6 12 20 26 28

Creating a Unified Vision for Play — Leaving a Legacy Ageless Playgrounds Safe, Accessible Play Surfaces 2019 Playground Education Sessions Innovative Certified Playground Safety Inspectors

Departments 27 CPSI Calendar 31 Ad Index

Triitopia A magical world of climbing and adventure where reality and fiction blend together. www.berliner-playequipment.com

Company Profiles

1 GameTime/Playcore 3 Design Concepts 4 Little Tikes Commercial 9 Cadron Creek Play 10 Landscape Structures Inc. 18 Miracle Recreation 23 Greenfields Outdoor Fitness 24 BCI Burke Playgrounds 31 Learning Landscape Design 32 Playworld

NRPA

CONNECT

DOWNLOAD OUR NEW APP TO JOIN THE CONVERSATION

nrpa.org/Connect-App Berliner Seilfabrik Play Equipment Corporation 96 Brookfield Oaks Drive, Suite 140, Greenville, SC 29607, T +1 864 627 1092

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Woman Owned, Principal Led We are a woman-owned small business, led by President Carol Henry and Principals Shanen Weber and Erik Spring. Founded in Boulder, Colorado, we have 37 years of recreation, education, master planning and community identity design experience.

Owner Carol Henry

Principal Erik Spring

Principal Shanen Weber

Award-Winning Landscapes We have received over 70 industry awards, including numerous Colorado Governor’s Awards for Excellence and the 2017 USA Today Readers’ Choice Award for Top 10 Splash Pads in America.

Recreation Design that Builds Community

Decades of Experience • Buildable, maintainable spaces • Great designs for every budget • Protected and resilient environments Commitment to Design • Places and activities that inspire • Spaces tailored for each community • Connections between people and nature

Education Design that Opens Doors

Exciting Outdoor Experiences • For students, teachers, parents, administrators and neighborhoods Trusted and Valued Team Members • For school districts and leading educational teams

Master Planning that Puts Everything in Order

Plans for Confident and Sustainable Progress • The right steps in the right order for the best outcome Community Engagement for Consensus and Equity • A shared vision for a bright, inclusive future

Identity Designs that Define Communities

Branding, Environmental Graphics, Streetscapes and Wayfinding • Economic vitality, welcoming identities and seamless navigation www.dcla.net 303.664.5301

Destination Cities Need Destination Play

Innovative design

Amazing

service

750

projects over 30+ years

150

clients in 18 states

70+

industry awards

303-664-5301 www.dcla.net

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How Playing on the Playground Can Help Kids Build Confidence own importance, unstructured playtime empowers children to explore their interests on their own as they choose which equipment and activities they most enjoy.

3. Encourage Healthy Risk-Taking Kids need to take risks to build lasting confidence, and a playground allows them to take these risks in a safe, supervised environment. Walking across a balance beam or climbing to the top of a PlayStax tower might intimidate them at first, but they’ll feel a sense of pride as they learn new skills and achieve their goals.

4. Develop Essential Life Skills Playgrounds can improve cognitive function, leading to higher test scores and increasing confidence in the classroom. Play can also boost motor and social skills, critical thinking, hand-eye coordination and creativity — skills that help kids excel in many areas of life. Developing these abilities encourages confidence throughout a child’s entire lifetime. Self-confidence has a huge impact on children’s lives. Children with healthy self-esteem feel pride in their accomplishments, self-assurance in their ability to achieve and acceptance from their peers. Confidence helps kids to be the best they can be, and it’s a vital part of healthy child development. Here are five ways that playgrounds help build self-esteem:

1. Build Peer Relationships

Many wonderful childhood memories happen on a playground, but children can also experience feelings of impatience and frustration. When they have to stand in line to use a slide or try to play with someone who is still learning to share, they learn that these negative experiences are part of life. With proper encouragement, kids learn to manage frustration or disappointment.

Children feel a need to fit in with their peers, but some kids find it difficult to make friends. When children feel like they don’t fit in, they might think they aren’t as good as other kids. But when they overcome these feelings, they have a sense of accomplishment and belonging to a larger community.

Little Tikes Commercial knows outdoor play is essential to the development of all children, which is why our play structures encourage them to learn fundamental lessons through play. Visit www.littletikescommercial.com to see what we can do for your project!

2. Allow Kids to Make Their Own Decisions

LittleTikesCommercial.com 800.325.8828

Kids feel more powerful when they’re allowed to make their own choices. While structured activities have their

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5. Help Kids Manage Disappointment and Frustration

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SPARK WONDER PlayStax™ combine the magic of kid-built forts with the convenience of modular design, empowering you to create an awe-inspiring structure perfectly suited to your play space! Visit LittleTikesCommercial.com/PlayStax to learn more about PlayStax

® & © The Little Tikes Company U.S. and other countries. PlayPower LT Farmington, Inc. is a PlayPower, Inc. company. ©2019 PlayPower, Inc. All rights reserved.


A variety of spaces and activities were created in this adventure play area to offer challenges for all ages and abilities.

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Creating a Unified Vision for Play —

Leaving a Legacy

PHOTOS COURTESY OF LEARNING LANDSCAPES DESIGN LLC

By Jaime English, Beth Jones, Mara Kaplan and Michelle Mathis, RLA The adventure play area at Winchester, Kentucky’s Legacy Grove Park (legacygrovepark.org) exemplifies how investments in placemaking projects through local philanthropy strengthens community health, economy, environment and civic vitality. The park — which also includes nature trails, ADA-accessible walking paths, a dog park and open lawns — is a place for people of all ages to play, reflect, exercise and use their imagination. Legacy Grove, in partnership with Learning Landscapes Design (learninglandscapesdesign.com) has reenvisioned the design process to redefined play by allowing true youth participation (beyond sticker voting on photos) and creating a space abundant with personal and community growth opportunities. The resulting play area provides developmentally rich spaces that engage multiple senses to inspire imaginative, sensory, collaborative and physical play for users of all abilities.

Youth Civic Engagement in the Design Process The

Greater

Clark

Foundation

(GCF) (clarkambition.org), which developed Legacy Grove, recruited children to participate in the design process as part of the youth design team. The group consisted of 25 students from different schools who represented various perspectives, abilities, backgrounds and life experiences, and they participated in a three-day workshop where they became play experts before presenting their findings to the community. Inspiring playground images generated rich conversations between youth design team members, who realized that there are many different ways to play. This was the foundation for the community-focused design process. During the workshop, students learned about play-area design and universal accessibility, and even constructed models of their ideal spaces. Teams of students banded together to problem-solve issues surrounding design and accessibility. At the community meeting, the youth design team led hands-on design stations and surveyed attendees with questions they devised about future playground goals. Through this process, it was evident that it was important not just to listen to the children, but to involve them in the full process. They now have full ownership in the park and

are proud of the work they’ve done for the community. Team members also had an opportunity to see the play area during the construction process. Lilly, a 14-yearold youth design team member says, “People in the future get to use this park. I get to look back on it when I am older and say, I made that!”

Nature Play and Youth Directed Play Opportunities GCF knows great communities have great parks. For this reason, it wanted to work with a design team that moves beyond isolated physical play spaces. Learning Landscapes Design’s research-based design model, which incorporates local culture and focuses on multi-sensory and childled play, spoke to GCF’s goals. One major feature of the design is a 45foot, locally made, dulcimer instrument-inspired climber. We aimed to create a space where youth can take healthy risks with friends, explore cause and effect in a Kentucky limestone creek, and reach their flow state while designing and revising the youth-built maze. Through nature trails and water and habitat features, children can build deeper connections to the natural world while engaging with friends, exploring their senses and pushing their boundaries.

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Youth design team members share their ideas for the adventure play area with a local news crew.

to go against the playground equipment norm. As a donor-supported park, Legacy Grove does not have the support often available to park departments. However, it is utilizing a unique management tool developed by Learning Landscapes Design that outlines a standard of care for custom play spaces. The tool provides a framework that helps take the guesswork out of inspections and maintenance.

Inclusive Play One of GCF’s goals was to ensure that all members of its community could not only traverse the park, but actively engage. To do this, GCF teamed up with consulting company and playground inclusion specialists Let Kids Play (accessibleplayground. net), to create the following specific inclusion goals: • Children using mobility devices can easily move throughout and actively participate. • The space includes opportunities for sensory play. • Every child is challenged at their specific ability level. Setting clear inclusion goals enabled the team to be on the same page with a common language that was used throughout the design process. We worked with both the youth design team and Learning Landscapes to find creative solutions to plan a play space that is truly engaging to all. Thoughtful organization of impact surfacing and grading allows

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youth who use mobility devices to explore each zone. Children who have poor postural control can transfer onto climbing places, spinning features, slides and swings, many of which have back and side supports. The creek provides opportunities, within accessible reach range, to dip a hand in running water or mix and create at sensory tables. And, the design does more than support children with physical disabilities. It also considers the needs of children with developmental and/ or neurological differences with quiet areas for respite and to safely observe play. Additionally, the adventure play area is fenced to create a clear boundary, a helpful design feature for children with autism and their families.

Maintenance and Risk in Non-Traditional Play Spaces Maintaining a play area that does not fit the traditional equipment mold can be daunting. It is often a major reason recreation providers hesitate

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Ambition for a Vibrant Community GCF, the youth design team and community input called for an innovative park that could strengthen the body, stimulate the mind and improve the quality of life for residents of Clark County, Kentucky. Learning Landscapes Design’s ability to work side by side with youth, as well as incorporate input from other stakeholders, has led to an adventure play area that reflects the community’s hopes and aspirations and will be a point of pride for generations to come. Jaime English is the Collaborative Design Lead for Learning Landscapes Design (jaime@ learninglandscapesdesign.com). Beth Jones is the Program Officer for The Greater Clark Foundation (bjones@clarkambition.org). Mara Kaplan is the Founder of Let Kids Play! (mara@letkidsplay.com). Michelle Mathis, RLA, is the Principal Designer for Learning Landscapes Design LLC (michelle@ learninglandscapesdesign.com).


SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

Want Water Play? Cadron Creek Play is a division of Bison Pumps, one of the premier manual hand pump companies in the USA. With 20 years of experience building pumps, we have used that knowledge to create some of the highest-quality stainless steel playground pumps on the market. Out of that effort came Cadron Creek Play and our Pump-N-Play playground pump systems. These systems act like hand pumps but use a pressurized water system to maintain the proper level of water in the stainless steel tanks. Our mission is to create a sensory play environment to help develop young minds. The pumps act to encourage STEM learning and socialized growth as kids work together to pump and play in the water. More outside play, less screen time!

Cadron Creek Play’s Playground Pump Systems are an exciting water play feature for your park or playground. With a unique draw like a Playground Pump System, families will visit the playscape again & again...and tell their friends!

PROTECT CHILDREN FROM PLAYGROUND HAZARDS Attend a Playground Maintenance Course and gain knowledge on the most prevalent playground hazards and safe maintenance and repair practices. nrpa.org/Playground-Maintenance

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Creating a Destination Park for the Whole Community

In the eyes of children, playgrounds are larger-than-life places. Infinite moments of discovery and imagination take place in these spaces that shape their rapidly growing minds. While there may be more than one park or playground in a child’s life at any certain point in time, most parents and caregivers would agree that there is always a favorite, requested time and again.

Defining Your Community Creating an unforgettable play experience in a community can define it for years, even decades, to come. However, not all playgrounds are created equally. With new innovations and modern design concepts, Landscape Structures Inc., a Delano, Minnesota-based commercial playground equipment manufacturer, helps to create destination playgrounds that will attract people from near and far. Designing a unique playground allows park planners to create spaces that address the needs of the community. Destination playgrounds can instill the values, signature elements and ideals of the area it inhabits — all while creating a sense of community. This sense of community is further enhanced by the ability to design a playground that

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is inclusive to children of all abilities. Instead of merely meeting ADA standards of accessibility, Landscape Structures incorporates inclusive elements in its designs to encourage children and adults of all abilities to play together. Creating inclusive play opportunities is an invaluable addition to any community. In 2012, the City of Mesa Parks, Recreation and Commercial Facilities Department moved forward with a renovation of Pioneer Park with the hopes of reenergizing the park. In addition to adding a 9,000-square-foot playground, a splash pad and planting 130 trees, park officials tended to the historic trees, updated historic monuments and restored the Southern Pacific train car, which has been a pillar of the park for generations. The inspiration for the playground design was the three types of trees found in the park — pistache, palm and pine. Collaboration between Landscape Structures and Dig Studio led to the creation of playground towers that mimicked the surrounding trees. An elevated walkway, which flows through the entire play space, is completely ADA accessible and provides entryways into each of the play structures. Even more, it encourages interaction among children and their caregivers, and delivers a “walk among the trees” feel to users.

Creating a Lasting Impression Creating a playground design as unique and amazing as the community it serves has the power to establish a superior play experience. Landscape Structures and its local playground consultants will help guide you through the playground design process and select solutions that will help your project stand out from the rest. www.playlsi.com 888.438.6574


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: Pioneer Park, Mesa, Arizona Learn the story behind this amazing new playground at playlsi.com/pioneer.

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.


Outdoor Fitness Areas By Sonia Myrick

F

or decades, playgrounds have been part of the fabric of communities around the world. For older adults, the new growing trend is outdoor fitness areas. The very first older adults’ outdoor fitness area is believed to have been created in China in 1995, in response to a law that resulted in a nationwide physical fitness program. And, since 2012, several park and recreation agencies across the country — from California and Washington, Texas and Florida to New York and Massachusetts — have been incorporating these types of spaces in their facilities.

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PHOTO COURTESY OF GALVESTON COUNTY DAILY NEWS/STUART VILLANUEVA

Eighty-four-year-old Zady Jones walks across a rope step bridge at the senior outdoor fitness area at Carbide Park in La Marque, Texas.

Numerous studies exist about the benefits for older adults from being physically active — longer, healthier lives; a reduction in chronic diseases like diabetes and heart problems; and, for many, a way to stay socially engaged. A recent study conducted by National Institute on Aging researchers at Illinois’ Rush University to test the connection between physical activity and cognitive performance indicates that for older adults, “better motor abilities or higher levels of physical activity were associated with better cognitive performance.” These findings highlight the potential benefits of outdoor fitness areas for adults. Outdoor fitness equipment for

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older adults generally focuses on improving their flexibility, strength and balance and providing them with aerobic activities. Instead of sandboxes and monkey bars, sit-up machines, treadmills and elliptical cross trainers and stationary bikes are more the norm. In some places, outdoor fitness areas are designed specifically for use by older adults, but more and more, they are being placed near existing playground equipment so that families can play together. Most health organizations recommend roughly 30 minutes per day, five days a week of moderately heart-pumping exercise for adults ages 18 and older. Walking is the

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go-to exercise for many older adults because it’s practical, beneficial and, outside of the cost of a good pair of walking shoes, there’s a low pointof-entry cost. Muscle strengthening exercises for a minimum of two sessions per week are also recommended to help combat age-related muscle loss; however, a small percentage (10–12 percent) of older adults engage in this type of exercise. This is where outdoor fitness areas, designed with older adults in mind and with easy access to free equipment, can have a major impact.

Safety and Signage Mobility and fear are two factors that come into play as we age and must be factored into outdoor fitness equipment design for older adults. Unfortunately, in many underserved communities, the challenge begins with not only having great outdoor fitness areas but in making the ones that do exist safe. This means that providing the community with the opportunity to share its needs and desires, working with community members and educating them about the overall benefits of creating these types of safe spaces is the upfront work needed before a discussion about having an outdoor fitness area can even begin.


Fear of falling is a major safety concern for many older adults and can lead them to either restrict or avoid physical activity, further exacerbating their health issues. So, it’s imperative that access to these spaces include level, wider pathways for those who may need to use wheelchairs and/or benches on which to rest (with shaded areas) along the way for those using other assistive devices, ramps and handrails. Just like for children and youth, attention must also be paid to the surfacing used for outdoor fitnessa areas. Among the physical and functional changes that occur as we age, is a decrease in visual acuity, which needs to be accounted for when designing wayfinding and equipment use signage. A table of “Visual presentation guidelines” published in a March 2012 study in the Global Journal of Health Science (www.ncbi.nlm.nih. gov/pmc/articles/PMC4777049/), includes the following recommendations to help in this area: Lighting: Use several small, low-intensity light sources instead of a single large one on a matte surface to reduce glare. Text: For font type, it is better to use Arial, Helvetica or Century Gothic (sans serif); Times, Bookman or Book Antigua (serif) — script and

decorative fonts are difficult to read. Font size should be no smaller than 12 points; uppercase helps to draw attention but should not be used for long blocks of text; for contrast, it’s better to use either black text on a white background or white on a black background; warm colors are better for color text. Wayfinding signs should contain simple descriptions and be placed no higher than 54 inches from the ground. Clear, detailed instructional signs are also important to help increase usage of the outdoor fitness equipment.

If You Build It, Will They Come? Simply installing outdoor fitness equipment for older adults may not achieve the desired result of increasing this target populations’ level of physical activity. Research published in a 2017 issue of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, indicates that 82 percent of community members interviewed “believed [that inclusion of the fitness equipment] enhanced physical activity at least somewhat”; however, “most residents commented on ‘the potential’ the equipment had to improve health, rather than

In addition to increasing physical fitness opportunities for older adults, outdoor fitness areas also provide opportunities to socialize.

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References: Kim Joyce, “How Often & How Long Should the Elderly Exercise?” Livestrong.com - www.livestrong.com/ article/522381-how-often-how-longshould-the-elderly-exercise/ Parks & Recreation in Underserved Areas: A Public Health Perspective, NRPA - www.nrpa.org/ uploadedFiles/nrpa.org/Publications_ and_Research/Research/Papers/ Parks-Rec-Underserved-Areas.pdf Placemaking for an Aging Population: Guidelines for Senior-Friendly Parks - UCLA Complete Streets Initiative, Luskin School of Public Affairs, Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies, June 2014 - www. lewis.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/ sites/2/2015/04/Seniors-and-Parks-828-Print_reduced.pdf Jennifer L. Copeland, Cheryl L Currie, Ali Walker and Erin Mason, “Fitness Equipment in Public Parks: Frequency of Use and Community Perceptions in a Small Urban Centre,” Journal of Physical Activity & Health 14(5):1-29, February 2017. James A. Mortimer, Yaakov Stern, “Physical exercise and activity may be important in reducing dementia risk at any age,” Neurology, February 19, 2019 - https://n.neurology.org/ content/92/8

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Having a variety of outdoor fitness equipment provides options for people of all ages and abilities

the actual health improvement occurring in the community. Some residents described the equipment as a neighborhood reminder to exercise.” This research also indicates that equipment installed in larger parks where walking and jogging were taking place because there were more paved walking trails tended to see more equipment use. Community members offered the following three recommendations to increase usage of the outdoor fitness equipment: • “Increase information and signs about the equipment and how to use it.

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• Include a human element by introducing programming to teach and encourage residents to use the equipment. • Improve the quality and maintenance of both the equipment and the physical environment in the park around the equipment.” As far as funding to include programming around using the equipment, the report continues: “Municipalities could include programming in their budget when planning for the installation of new fitness equipment. Creative strategies could be used to make this type of programming feasible from a budgetary perspective. For example, postsecondary Kinesiology programs often have students with the training to provide such services and who are looking for volunteer practicum opportunities.” Given the undisputed benefits of outdoor fitness equipment, creating opportunities for physical activity that are inclusive for all is a definite growing trend. It’s important, however, to make sure that “fun” continues to be a major element for adults. Sonia Myrick is the Executive Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine (smyrick@ nrpa.org).


TM

SAVE THE DATE Apply Now

GRANT FUNDING Applications Due August 2, 2019

The 10-Minute Walk campaign supports the simple idea that everyone should live within a 10-minute walk of a park. Applications are now open for grant funding that supports technical assistance to cities seeking to implement planning, policy and funding strategies that increase access to high-quality, close-to-home parks and public green space. Learn more and apply

nrpa.org/10minutewalk


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The Importance of Recess for Kids with ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that can cause distraction, disorganization, concentration issues, forgetfulness, restlessness and more. Children with ADHD tend to have a particularly hard time in the classroom because the condition makes it difficult for them to finish tasks, listen in class, sit still and concentrate. For children with ADHD, recess is particularly important for a few reasons: • Recess keeps children from isolation. Children with ADHD have a medical condition that makes it harder for them to avoid displaying disruptive behaviors in the classroom. When children with ADHD are kept from recess as a punishment for causing disruptions, they’re being singled out for a medical condition, which can encourage teasing. • Recess improves physical activity. All children need

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physical activity, and recess is a fantastic way to get it. One benefit of recess for children with ADHD is being able to dispel excess energy and restlessness. • The CDC reports that recess activities can improve concentration, memory and attention. Studies have shown that children who have ADHD experience better results in the classroom and even have reduced symptoms when they’re allowed to play during recess. • Playtime can help children practice focusing in a no-pressure environment. In a classroom setting kids with ADHD may feel pressure to focus. When they can’t, they may feel they’re being reprimanded through no fault of their own. By contrast, recess has fewer rules, which allows children to learn in a more comfortable environment. • Recess builds social skills. Kids with ADHD build social skills on the playground as they learn to share and negotiate. Making friends can help them feel less alone. • Playtime is beneficial for all children. It helps them stay on track in class, helps reduce disruptions and helps with childhood development. One of the benefits of recess is that it helps ADHD sufferers reach developmental milestones. Miracle Recreation believes it’s crucial to support children with play equipment that helps them be their best. If you need inclusive playground equipment that delivers big thrills for kids, contact your nearest Miracle Recreation sales rep to find out how we can help you build your dream playground.

®

www.miracle-recreation.com 888.458.2752


Feel theTHRILL Our new Sensory Panels bring the thrill of sensory play to your playground with stimulating colors and tactile patterns. Sensory Panels are modular and configurable, giving you the ability to adapt them to your space and budget!

See how Miracle brings more ÂŽ

thrills to your playground. 1.888.458.2752 | Miracle-Recreation.com

Miracle Recreation Equipment Company is a Division of PlayPower, Inc. Copyright Š2019 by PlayPower, Inc. All rights reserved


Accessible Safe,

By Geoff Ames

20 Parks & Recreation

Play Surfaces

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Imagine being 7 years old and wanting to go play at the local park with your friends. Sounds like fun, right? Unfortunately, you can’t go, because you use a wheelchair, and the playground’s surface is not accessible to you. This is a well-known feeling for many children with disabilities. Outside of a moral belief in creating inclusive environments for all people, why do we need to ensure playgrounds are accessible for children with disabilities? Legally, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that playgrounds provide a public play area that’s free from discrimination on the basis of disability. This means that access for the public, including children, parents and grandparents with disabilities, is protected by the ADA. In 2010, the ADA’s Standards for Architectural Design, which requires disability access to a set number of ground-level and elevated play components, was implemented to make it easier for individuals with disabilities to access play equipment. In addition to the playground equipment, paths, routes and other trails leading to the play area must also be accessible. For instance, ground-level play components must have a turning space, a level, clear space next to them and entry points between 11 inches and 24 inches above the ground. The surface characteristics of the accessible route and of clear and turning spaces, where that surface is within use zones, is the most challenging provision of the ADA standards for play areas.

Playground Surfaces If you have ever tried to push a stroller at the beach, you know how difficult it is to use a wheelchair on sand or other loose surface materials. Similarly, if you have ever worried about your vehicle’s brakes going out on a steep hill, you can imagine how scary it might be to lose control of a wheelchair on a hilly concrete path. These are some of the reasons, though not stated in so many words, the ADA standards specify and necessitate the presence of the following three categories of surfaces within playgrounds:

ponent and entry points to elevated play structures. Any number of materials, such as concrete or asphalt, when properly installed with compliant running and cross slopes, can provide an accessible surface.

If you have ever tried to push a stroller at the beach, you know how difficult it is to use a wheelchair on sand or other loose surface materials.

Safe Surfaces

Safe and Accessible Surfaces

Colliding with hard surfaces at high speeds can cause traumatic head injuries. As evaluated by the ADA, safe surfaces must meet head injury criterion (HIC) requirements to help prevent moderate-to-severe head injuries from collisions. In “use zones” — the areas where children can potentially fall from play components — the surfaces must meet HIC values to comply with the ADA’s “safe” surface standards. However, not all surfaces within a playground are required to be safe, and not all surfaces within use zones are required to be accessible.

This is the most difficult category to understand and to implement. For a playground surface to meet safe and accessible standards, the surface materials and conditions must satisfy both criteria as identified above. The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) has established standards for surfaces that are deemed to be safe, while requiring a maximum amount of work to propel a manual wheelchair forward and allow it to turn on that surface. ADA Standards require ground surfaces of accessible routes and clear spaces to be “inspected and maintained regularly and frequently to ensure continued compliance with ASTM F 1951.” To see a Guide to ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Play Areas, visit www.playgroundregs.com/resources /ADA%20guide.pdf.

Accessible Surfaces Per ADA standards, the surfaces of accessible routes must be stable, firm and slip-resistant. Accessible routes must be provided to at least one of each type of ground-level play com-

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Wheelchair users are able to successfully navigate on poured-in-place surfacing to fully access playground equipment.

dulate and dish out in high-traffic spots, such as the surfaces at the bottom of slides or beneath swings. That said, no material is inherently compliant. PIP surfaces with excessive slopes are not compliant. Furthermore, PIP surfaces that have deteriorated — have cracked, are gapping or have hardened from years in the sun — may be neither safe nor accessible.

Conclusions

Surfaces in the Real World Outside of the research laboratory, assessment of play surfaces relies on simpler means of measurement to determine whether a given surface is accessible. Required ground-level accessible routes must have: • Vertical clearance – 80 inches • Clear width – 60 inches • Running slopes ≤ 1:20 (5 percent) • Cross slopes ≤ 1:48 (2.1 percent) • Ramp slopes ≤ 1:16 (6.25 percent) • Maximum changes in level ≤ ¼-inch vertical or ≤ ½-inch beveled • Gaps that allow passage of a sphere ≤ ½-inch diameter • Within use zones surfaces that are safe

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Whether using pour-in-place (PIP), tiles, artificial turf or loose fill materials, such as engineered wood fiber (EWF), conditions that do not meet all the above criteria are not compliant. Unstable loose fill materials seldom comply with all of the above criteria. This is not necessarily due to the nature or characteristics of materials, but, more likely, due to the materials not being installed per the manufacturer’s instructions. EWF, for example, is rarely installed as the manufacturer instructs, and many instructions include the following warning: Loose fill materials tend to un-

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Whether you are designing a playground for a 7-year-old or 70-yearold person, it is critical to first determine which surface materials to use and where to meet the ADA’s safe and accessible requirements. Once identified, the materials must be installed as instructed by the manufacturer or it will not meet the combined requirements for safety and accessibility. In choosing playground surface material, one must consider not only its initial installation cost, but, most importantly, its safety and accessibility for all individuals, regardless of age or ability. Now who wants to go play on the swings?

Geoff Ames is Executive Consultant for Meeting the Challenge, Inc. (games@mtc-inc.com).


SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

Greenfields: Fitness Solutions for Each Community’s Unique Needs At Greenfields Outdoor Fitness, we have always done our utmost to serve the greatest number of individuals possible and to fully enhance quality of life in our communities. In this pursuit, one thing is clear: there is no onesize-fits-all approach to fitness. Our communities are diverse and their needs are far-ranging. Therefore, fitness solutions should be anything but cookie-cutter. From its very inception, Greenfields Outdoor Fitness has pursued the goal of bringing fitness to everyone, from novices to elite athletes, in an environment that all can access — the great outdoors. This first took the form of body-weight resistance units. Today, Greenfields offers a vast array of unprecedented and truly exciting exercise apparatuses, unequalled by anyone else. For those with mobility impairments, no one else can boast the unique solutions offered by Greenfields. From the original Signature Accessible units introduced in 2012 — which, for the first time, created a truly inclusive outdoor gym experience — to the cutting-edge adjustable resistance feature incorporated into the same line in 2018, Greenfields Outdoor Fitness has led the way in going beyond mere accessibility to true inclusion. To meet the needs of and provide a challenge to the advanced user, Greenfields has introduced Functional Fitness options in the form of the X-Rig and the enhanced Functional Fitness Rig. The X-Rig brings all the versatility of suspension training to the outdoor space, while the Functional Fitness Rig boasts 17 different features for the most challenging outdoor training experience yet. These recent additions to Greenfields’ product line, combined with the Professional Series with adjustable resistance, and the tried-and-true Core Line, enjoyed across the United States and beyond, continue to push the limits of the outdoor fitness experience. In addition, Green-

fields’ personalized approach to outdoor fitness takes into account each community’s unique aspects, tailoring the gyms specifically for each project so that everyone — young and old, novice and advanced — can enjoy fitness together in the fresh air. We invite you to explore the many ways in which you can bring the outdoor fitness experience to your community. Though our primary mission remains the same — “Promoting Wellness and Fighting Obesity One Community at a Time” — we have found that as we do this, we can work toward a second goal as well: bringing people together. It’s a dual mission we’ve been privileged to pursue. We hope you’ll join us.

greenfieldsfitness.com 888.315.9037

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Bringing Adventure to the Air with AirVenture® Glider Swinging is a universal childhood experience that brings a variety of important developmental benefits to the playground. Burke’s innovative new AirVenture® Glider takes swinging to the next level by adding different ways to experience this longtime childhood playground staple while fostering socialization and cooperation. Bringing adventure back to play is important and helps engage children to keep them playing, moving and developing. AirVenture provides a fast, fun, soaring ride that works the entire body, including upper and lower body as well as core. While gliding, they won’t just be working on physical development. Inclusive play is encouraged, as children will need to work together to get and keep the glider moving — the better the communication and cooperation, the faster they can fly! Adding an AirVenture Glider also provides a unique opportunity for kids to develop cognitive skills, such as problem-solving, since they will need to figure out how to shift their bodies in tandem to begin AirVenture’s movement and keep it soaring.  AirVenture is so original it even has a Patent Pending! It brings clean lines and beautiful, organic shapes and curves to the playspace while providing the most excitement kids can get swinging. Combine it with the Volito® Multi-User Swing in a Multi-Bay design, so children of all abilities can swing together in the same space. Where fun, development and design collide, AirVenture begins.

www.bciburke.com 800.356.2070

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The Next Evolution in Play The Next Evolution in Play is here. It brings intricate climbers, fast slides with coordinating roofs and barriers that can be combined to create a tower that rises up and beckons children to explore. The Nucleus® Evolution™ collection will move children to experience adventure, develop narratives and create experiences like no one has seen on the playground before. Play will never be the same again.

bciburke.com Trademark(s) are the property of BCI Burke Company. © BCI Burke Company 2019. All Rights Reserved. 800-356-2070

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2019 Playground Education Sessions A Behavioral Investigation of Preference for a Playground Sensory Maze

2019

ANNUAL CONFERENCE SEPTEMBER 24–26 | BALTIMORE, MD

SEPTEMBER 24-26 | NRPA.ORG/CONFERENCE The 2019 NRPA Annual Conference offers several playground-focused sessions along with an exhibit hall featuring top playground brands and state-of-the-art equipment. Following are just a few of the education sessions being offered. For a more complete listing, visit www.nrpa.org/ conference/ and under the Education tab/Full Schedule, search keyword “playgrounds.”

Your Data and You: What You DON’T Know About Local Parks and Playgrounds Drawing on information gathered from more than 5,000 smart playgrounds across North America, this session will examine how to tailor parks to accommodate for future demographic trends, reviewing what factors influence a park’s popularity, outlining which equipment is most appropriate for a location or what playground designs are best at promoting inclusiveness. Our team of experts will review your present situation and help you brainstorm your forward-looking strategy. Moderators: Nis Bojin, research manager, Biba; Deborah A. Cohen, M.D., MPH, senior scientist, RAND Corporation; and Erin Shum, former parks commissioner, city of Vancouver, British Columbia

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Universal design for playgrounds means building them so they are accessible by all individuals, regardless of age, size, race or disability status. One area in need of universal design planning is the play richness of the playground environment — specifically sensory stimulation: what an individual might see, hear, feel or smell in response to a play environment. In this session, the presenters will share their research findings from studies examining the sensory maze’s overall effectiveness with children and discuss the implications of this work. Speakers: Eric Schmidt, CEO and owner, Playground Equipment Services, and Tina Stanton-Chapman, associate director and professor of early childhood education and human development, University of Cincinnati

The Journey of a Raindrop: How a Landscape Architect, Park Planner and Play Equipment Designer Collaborated to Creatively Integrate Environmental Education into a Park and Play Environment Located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Greenbriar Park, a destination play area, is based on a theme around the journey of a raindrop falling into a Western Maryland mountain stream, flowing into the Potomac River and then the Chesapeake Bay. Using topography and landform, boulders, blue pavers, native planting, interpretive signage and custom play equipment, the designers highlight the geography, watershed and wildlife of the region. This session will explore this successful, creative collaboration between the public agency and park planner, the landscape architecture firm and the play equipment manufacturer’s design team. Speakers: Julie Higgins, landscape architecture principal, Hord Coplan Macht, and Om Khurjekar, landscape architecture principal, Hord Coplan Macht


Find a CPSI Course Near You The Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) certification program provides the most comprehensive, up-to-date training on playground safety issues, including hazard identification, equipment specifications, surfacing requirements and risk management methods. To get certified, find a course in your area and sign up today! July 9-11

Raleigh, North Carolina

August 13-15 14-16 21-23

Fayetteville, New York Littleton, Colorado Hobbs, New Mexico

September 11-13 11-13 16-18 17-19 18-20 18-20 21-23 30-Oct. 2

Saratoga Springs, New York DeWitt, Michigan Griffin, Georgia West Hollywood, California Dublin, Ohio Leesburg, Virginia Baltimore, Maryland Sacramento, California

October 2-4 2-4 16-18 22-24 22-24 23-25 29-31

Hamburg, New York Bloomington-Normal, Illinois Lexington, South Carolina Statesville, North Carolina Phoenix, Arizona New City, New York Topeka, Kansas

November 4-6 4-6 5-7 6-8

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin Greenwood, Indiana North Kansas City, Missouri Kearns, Utah

December 2-4

Exton, Pennsylvania

Learn more at www.nrpa.org/CPSI

Playground Maintenance Course NRPA’s Playground Maintenance Course (PMC) is a one-day educational course that includes an overview of playground safety standards and guidelines, playground-owner responsibilities, maintenance discussions on playground equipment, surfacing and site items. We recommend the course to maintenance and recreation staff, university seniors and to any individual responsible for playgrounds who is 18 years of age or older. July

12

Prescott, Arizona

September 12 16 17 17 23

Show Low, Arizona Leesburg, Arizona Town of Florence, Arizona Leesburg, Virginia Baltimore, Maryland

October 2 24

Phoenix, Arizona Mission, Kansas

November 5 6 6

Mocksville, North Carolina Yuma, Arizona Smithfield, North Carolina

Learn more at www.nrpa.org/playground-maintenance

CPSI and Playground Maintenance Courses at the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference We’re hosting a CPSI course and exam and a Playground Maintenance Course this September, in conjunction with the NRPA Annual Conference. If you plan to attend the conference in Baltimore, why not add on one of these courses to get even more out of your trip? Registration for the conference is not required to attend the CPSI course and exam or the Playground Maintenance Course. When: CPSI - September 21–23, 2019 Playground Maintenance – September 23, 2019 Where: Baltimore, Maryland Visit www.nrpa.org/conference for more details.

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Innovative Certified Playground Safety Inspectors By Scott Belair, CCPI, CPSI, B.Sc. When it comes to having CPSItrained employees on staff, there are some obvious benefits to an organization, such as increased likelihood of safe, compliant play spaces and lower organizational liability. Another benefit is the perception of competency and professionalism that comes with having certified staff on hand to assess compliance, perform repairs when appropriate, contract repairs to industry professionals when necessary and deal with play space inquiries from the public, suppliers, vendors and others. But, what are the personal benefits to individuals with a CPSI certification? How does CPSI certification help you to further your career? The primary benefit is increased knowledge of play-space safety and known hazards to ensure play-space safety better and with confidence. Of course, there’s more than the one benefit.

Standout CPSIs Becoming a CPSI increases your value to any employer by showing you have the training, experience and skills to contribute meaningfully to

an organization. Getting your certification can also signify your dedication to your career and to the field. Since 2002, I have taught more than 100 sessions of the Canadian equivalent of the CPSI course. In those 17 years, there have been a few students who stood out as empowered CPSIs: Cyril the Carpenter

Cyril was a carpenter who sustained a knee injury playing football during his youth. After reaching middle age, he had difficulty going up and down stairs at work, so he submitted his résumé to the local school district in hopes of finding less physically demanding full-time work with better benefits and improved job security. Fortunately, the school district had an opening for a CPSI. Cyril paid his own way through the CPSI course on a government subsidy to re-train and was able to obtain the job with the school district.

After starting his new job, Cyril learned that the school district had no inspection kit and lacked the money for a new one until the next budget period. But, he didn’t let that stop him from performing his job. Due to his training, Cyril decided to take the challenge head-on. His first task was to make his own inspection kit so he could carry out his job (without having to wait until the next budget period for the necessary tools). After three years on the job, Cyril came back to the course for recertification. As we headed to the play space for field inspection, to the envy of the other students, Cyril brought out his homemade inspection kit. He used his carpentry skills to go above and beyond to contribute to his workplace and his community. Steve the Arborist Steve was an arborist by trade, employed by a local landscape firm that was venturing into play-space site prep and playground installation. As this shift occurred, Steve was delegated to the playground department. After completing his CPSI training, one of Steve’s first tasks was to remove a dead tree near a newly constructed play space. Coincidentally, the new play space had no budget for site furnishings (benches, picnic tables, garbage

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cans, etc.). Steve used his arborist training — and a chainsaw — to not only take down the dead tree, but to also carve it into chairs and tables to furnish the play space. Eventually, the firm ventured into nature-inspired playground design and began making play elements from natural wood products. Max the Park and Rec Employee Max was a 40-year employee of one of the largest municipalities in Canada. Everyone in the parks department turned to him because of his experience — he was “the man” to go to, as he had “seen it all.” Max had been recertified as a CPSI many times, and, held the record for the highest-ever CPSI exam score at 99 percent. Max was so well-versed that he could have taught the course. Toward the end of his career, Max contracted me to inspect a play space in the local community that he felt was unsafe. After arrival on-site, I said to Max: “This is a challenging piece

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of equipment no doubt — but everything here is compliant.” The play space had the correct amount of surfacing depth, all the correct use zones and posed no hazards, as per the relevant standards in place at the time of installation. The equipment was just too challenging for the residents in the nearby neighborhood, and I figured Max already knew this. As we sat on-site catching up on industry news and gossip, a few parents made comments about the equipment being dangerous for their young children. We heard comments, such as “this equipment is too high,” “someone might fall and hit those bars,” and “my daughter fell off that top rung.” While all were relevant concerns, ultimately the equipment did comply. There are several approaches Max could have chosen, like making no comment at all and letting his organization continue to accept the risk or telling the caregivers to head to a different neighborhood park. Instead, Max suggested to each parent that they contact their local councilor with their concerns, and, if they really felt motivated, mobilize other neighborhood parents to do the same. Today, that same piece of equipment still exists in the park. However, within the subsequent months, a large sandbox, spring toy, a lowelevation platform with a stair and dual slide were added for younger users, making the play space one for children of all ages.

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Summary These three individuals exemplify what it means to be a CPSI by integrating the knowledge from their training with their previous skill set to develop innovative solutions for their organizations and their communities. I have heard many other examples of CPSIs going above and beyond, such as handing out stickers and temporary tattoos to children at local parks to put the children at ease while the CPSI was performing their job. I hope you can also use the CPSI training to make a difference in your community and make yourself an invaluable asset within your organization. No matter your skill set, becoming a CPSI can help you hone your existing skills and build on your knowledge to give you the training and confidence needed to excel in your job. Whatever your forte, you can use it to become an asset by making play spaces safer and more enjoyable for all users. The skills gained through the CPSI training will also create new opportunities for you to move up the ladder and further your career. Whatever your motivation, you won’t regret the decision to become a CPSI.

Scott Belair, CCPI, CPSI, B.Sc., is Principal Instructor for the Canadian Playground Safety Institute (scottbelair@ reliablereporting.ca).


SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

Designing for Nature Play: 5 Successful Strategies Creating engaging spaces for kids 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 to lead the design process. Their participation brings creativity and stewardship. 2. Develop your design program based on child development research. Design for the whole child by including physical, imaginative, social and sensory play opportunities. 3. Understand how ASTM playground standards apply to custom design features. 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 & inspection program for custom play areas. www.learninglandscapesdesign.com 971.226.0403

Learning Landscapes Design

learninglandscapesdesign.com

Advertiser Index BCI Burke Playgrounds....................................... 25

Landscape Structures Inc................................... 11

Berliner .....................................................................2

Learning Landscapes Design............................ 31

Cadron Creek Play.................................................. 9 Design Concepts ....................................................3

Little Tikes Commercial.........................................5 Miracle Recreation ............................................... 19

GameTime/PlayCore ........................................... C2 Playworld............................................................... C3

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The Importance of Outdoor Play Research has shown that children today engage in half as much outdoor play as their parents. While indoor play is also beneficial to children, getting kids outdoors provides physical and mental health benefits that can’t be gained indoors. Establishing limits on technology, finding safe outdoor spaces in which to play and carving out time for children to engage in fun outdoor activities is essential to their health and wellbeing. As parks and recreation officials, you’ve undoubtedly seen the positive effects of outdoor activity countless times. But do you find it hard to convince parents of its benefits? If so, here are some of the proven advantages of outdoor play:

1. Physical Fitness Benefits Outdoor play offers children many physical fitness benefits that are vital to their health and development and can help them stay healthy throughout their lives. Children who play outdoors regularly are much more likely to maintain a healthy weight and continue their physical activity level into adulthood, making it essential to establish these healthy habits at an early age.

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2. Social Development Benefits Playgrounds provide spaces where children can learn social skills both through active play and observation of others. Outdoor play also helps children strengthen their language skills, learn to overcome challenges, and build healthy relationships.

3. Mental Health Benefits With the busy schedules of today’s kids, conditions such as anxiety, stress and depression are becoming increasingly common in children. Spending time outdoors and in nature provides the outlet that children need to expend their energy and alleviate stress and anxiety. This, in turn, helps them to concentrate better and have better overall mental health.

4. Intellectual Health Benefits Playing outside stimulates children intellectually and has a positive impact on their school readiness and performance. Outdoor play can help children learn better in the classroom by stimulating their creativity and allowing them to view learning materials in a variety of ways. It also increases focusing ability which helps them to more easily absorb and process new concepts.

5. Appreciation for the Outdoors Being active in childhood sets up children to have a lifelong love of nature and appreciation for conservation. Studies have shown that children who have a strong connection to nature are more likely to engage in pro-environmental behavior throughout their lives such as recycling and water conservation. For more information about the importance of outdoor play, visit www.playworld.com.

www.playworld.com 800.233.8404


Climbing Just Got More Exciting! ModPods™ Inspired by nature, ModPods are versatile modular climbers that were designed to be more challenging than a flat plane climber. Include one unit in your playspace or design a cluster—the possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Playworld.com/ModPods Playworld Systems, Inc. is a PlayPower, Inc. company. ©2019 PlayPower, Inc. All rights reserved.


Protect Your Playgrounds.

BECOME A CPSI. Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSIs) help ensure children have safe places to play. Not only that, becoming a CPSI opens the door for career advancement and increased job mobility.

nrpa.org/CPSI

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