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Play and Playground Magazine | Volume 17 No. 3 | Fall 2017
The Winding Road in Moving Minnesota Children’s Museum’s 17-Foot Slide
Making recess a priority for back to school
Survey finds opportunity for increased education on the benefits of play for kids By Tom Norquist
The Development of Community Play in Takoma Park, Maryland
By Pat Rumbaugh
Changing Communities Through Meaningful Public / Private Partnerships By Chad Kennedy
Russian Children Play Freely at Yeti By Liliya Shabutdinova & Lisa Pleskan-Negro
Proverb: The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions By Kenneth S. Kutska
6 Editor's Notes 7 Happening Today In Play / CPSI Course Schedule 12 PGPedia.com
NARE Offers an Alternative to NRPA By Ben Almoni
A new market in the Playground industry: Interaction Places By Miriam Levy
Best Friends Forest Foundation Builds Playgrounds to Empower Youth and Cultivate Peace By Marilyn DeMartini
Cover photo courtesy of the Yeti
A Gift to the Community by the Community By Curtis Stoddard
4 PLAY AND PLAYGROUND MAGAZINE FALL 2017
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FALL 2017 PLAY AND PLAYGROUND MAGAZINE 5
Magazine Publisher Design | Webmaster Jake Amen
Editors | Advertising Director Sara Bowersox
Accounting Ron Walker
Contributing Authors Ben Almoni Marilyn DeMartini Chad Kennedy Kenneth S. Kutska Miriam Levy Lisa Pleskan-Negro Tom Norquist Pat Rumbaugh Liliya Shabutdinova Rita Watts
Sara Bowersox: Message from the editor HELLO! I’m Sara Bowersox, and I’m excited to be the editor here at Play and Playground Magazine. This is a fascinating new adventure for me - both a vast departure from my past career and a new way for me to apply my skills. I spent nearly 30 years as a project manager in a corporate environment. I’ve also been quite involved in my local community, serving on the Chamber of Commerce and the Urban Renewal Agency. Editing this magazine and our website, playgroundprofessionals.com, gives me the opportunity to contribute to more communities and to advocate for the benefits of play - physical, mental and emotional - to all of you. In the last eighteen months, our Ashton Urban Renewal Agency purchased an empty lot that was a weedy eyesore on Main Street and turned it into a pocket park. The committee enlisted help from citizens to design the park and even to plant shrubs and perennials in the flower beds. The agency ordered the benches and trash cans from a local company, Lucky Dog Recreation, and they were manufactured by BPR by Bison. One of the next steps is to place a sculpture in the park, and we are asking for community input on that as well. Every time I drive down Main Street, I see people enjoying this lovely green space, whether it’s adults relaxing on a bench, or children chasing each other across the lawn. What a heart-warming feeling to know I helped create that.
This issue of Play and Playground Magazine explores some new parks and playgrounds that have come together with public and private partnerships. Our communities are invaluable in our lives and those of our kids. Communities can help us build places to play, and play with us in them. We discuss various ways to include all members of our communities in play that helps us all grow. We also cover the current trends to move away from play that is completely structured. Over the past several years, as I’ve been shopping for gifts for my granddaughters, I’ve gotten quite frustrated to find no simple boxes of Legos™. In most stores, you now only see kits. Several of our articles this issue focus on how our current culture puts so much (too much?) structure around children’s play. We have practically surrounded them with bubble wrap and taken away any decision-making. How can we offer our kids safety while allowing them to learn how to navigate situations that are not mapped out for them? At Playground Professionals, we want to bring you the latest information in the industry, as well as prompt you and ourselves to think outside of the "sandbox". You might find that some of our articles test conventional wisdom. We welcome your points of view, and encourage you to comment on these articles on our website playgroundprofessionals.com. Let’s grow together, and have fun too!
Copyright, 2017 published by Playground Professionals, LLC, 4 issues per year, sub rates, back copies, foreign, reproduction prohibitions, all rights reserved, not responsible for content of ads and submitted materials, mail permits.
CORPORATE OFFICE Playground Professionals LLC P.O. Box 595 Ashton, Idaho 83420
6 PLAY AND PLAYGROUND MAGAZINE FALL 2017
CPSI Course Calendar
Training Courses - Annual Events - Conferences - More September 23
9th Annual Play Day, Takoma Park , MD
Get ready for a day of fun and smilies with many types of music, dance, and movements classes for all ages! All ages welcome, especially kids at heart.
More Information: www.letsplayamerica.org
Takoma Park, MD
2017 NRPA Annual Conference
New Orleans is the perfect location for the 2017 NRPA Annual Conference. If you haven't seen all the details, now's the time! Registration is open!
More Information: www.nrpa.org/conference2017
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
900 Convention Center Blvd, New Orleans, Louisiana
National Bullying Prevention Month October
October is National Bullying Prevention Month Join the movement! The End of Bullying Begins with Me: that’s the message during PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Month in October.
More Information: goo.gl/0lKlTJ
New Orleans, LA
Grand Rapids, MI
Jersey City, NJ
College Station, TX
PLAYce for Kids Day
Join us in our celebration by investing in our PLAYce for Kids Day or hosting your own in your community!
North Salt Lake, UT
Kansas City, MI
Winter Park, FL
More Information: www.kaboom.org/playce4kids
CPRS Playground Maintenance Academy
An Outstanding learning exchange featuring Butch DeFillippo, PlaySafe, LLC an experienced consultant in the field of playground maintenance.
More Information: https://goo.gl/76XCxJ
Nov. 1st: Irvine, CA Nov. 2nd: Carlsbad, CA
PRPS Playground Maintenance Workshops
Learn the various aspects of playground maintenance at this interactive workshop. Includes information about protective surfacing, play equipment maintenance, playground hazards and priorities, and more.
More Information: https://goo.gl/WvU3mS
PSAT’s Training Center
4855 Woodland Drive, Enola, PA
FALL 2017 PLAY AND PLAYGROUND MAGAZINE 7
d n i eW
d a o R ing
g n i v o in M
Minnesota Children’s Museum’s
IF YOU LOVE twists and turns, you can’t do much better than The Scramble. This amazing, four-story vertical adventure with its one-of-a-kind spiral slide just opened June 7th at Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul. Yet, there’s also a thrilling, behind-thescenes story about what it took to get the 17-foot slide from Germany to the Twin Cities in time for the museum’s grand opening. In early 2017 when this story began, the museum was nearing the end of a lengthy expansion and renovation project. Before the renovation, many exhibits had not been updated since the museum opened in 1995. And so, over nearly 18 months of construction, the museum worked to add 35 percent more space (from 65,000 to 74,000 square feet), an updated rooftop experience, and an outdoor exhibit. 8 PLAY AND PLAYGROUND MAGAZINE FALL 2017
The Scramble was also part of the expansion. The four-story climbing adventure, to be installed behind a new glass façade at the front of the building, included towers and catwalks made of netting, as well as a magnificent spiral slide being manufactured in Germany, one of the few places in the world that could create a customized, stainless steel slide. In order for the slide to be installed within the construction timeline, it needed to arrive by April 28. Plans were set for the museum’s grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 7th. Then, news came from Germany that almost derailed everything. Production of the spiral slide had fallen behind schedule. The new date for the slide’s delivery was May 19—three weeks behind project deadline. This was a potentially devastating setback. The www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
slide had to arrive on time so it could be assembled, installed, and tested. Until all this could be completed, the construction crew could not put the last wall in place to finish the expansion. Dianne Krizan, the president of Minnesota Children’s Museum, evaluated the options. There was no getting around the deadline for the slide. Unless everything happened according to the original plan, they would have to push back the grand opening by several weeks. The museum’s grand opening date was now in jeopardy. At this point, the story took another turn. On April 7, Krizan emailed a former member of the museum’s board of directors, Dan Ryan, and explained the situation. Ryan is vice president of North American Surface Transportation at C.H. Robinson, a third party logistics provider headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. His company happens to be one of the few in the world with the resources, know-how, and flexibility to make seemingly impossible deliveries just about anywhere in the world. Ryan assured Krizan that C.H. Robinson could help. He quickly enlisted the help of the company’s Frankfurt and Minneapolis offices. Together, they developed a plan to get things back on track so they could meet the project deadline. The original plan was to ship the slide by ocean vessel. However, due to the production delay, it was decided to ship the slide by air, making up for lost time. If this had been an ordinary slide, that might have been the end of the story. But this slide was going to be 17 feet tall. It could not be shipped by air in one piece. The slide had to shipped in large components that could be crated for secure delivery by air. Packing it to prevent damage was the biggest hurdle. C.H. Robinson’s Frankfurt office made all the arrangements with the manufacturer and the airlines. The Frankfurt team had to work through another complication, too. The components had to be shipped before the Easter holiday, traditionally a very busy shipping time for air cargo to move in Europe. With a lack of air cargo space available, the Frankfurt office got creative. They booked space on two commercial flights—a Boeing 747F and www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
a Boeing 777. They also prepared the documentation to clear the export shipments through German Customs. Air delivery would cut 24 days off the ocean schedule. That put the slide’s ultimate delivery at four days before the original deadline. In the shipping business, early deliveries can sometimes cause problems of their own. This was a very large shipment, and the packages could not sit there once they arrived. Flatbed trucks would have to navigate through busy downtown St. Paul streets, and the construction crew would have to be there to receive the components early. Throughout the entire door-todoor shipping process, C.H. Robinson watched every detail of this shipment on its global technology platform, Navisphere®. This system helped coordinate communications between the manufacturer, the museum, the airlines, the trucking companies in Germany and
the United States, and the construction provider so everyone understood what would be required of them, and when. The planes arrived in the United States, and C.H. Robinson’s Minneapolis International team took control of the details. They coordinated the U.S. Customs clearance, and had flatbed trucks waiting to pick up the shipments. They arrived at Minnesota Children’s Museum on April 24. The slide was assembled as planned, and the museum welcomed its first visitors at the grand opening without a hitch. As any story about a spiral slide should, this one had a happy ending. Children [and adults] can experience the independence and thrill of The Scramble for years to come. And Minnesota Children’s Museum received an innovative, one-of-a-kind solution for delivery from the dedicated network of global supply chain experts at C.H. Robinson.
FALL 2017 PLAY AND PLAYGROUND MAGAZINE 9
Image courtesy of dotshock/Shutterstock.com
Making recess a priority for back to school Survey finds opportunity for increased education on the benefits of play for kids by Tom Norquist NEW FRIENDS, new shoes, new jeans, new tablet, new teachers. Back to school is always a busy time for children and parents alike. As children take their seats in classrooms across the country to embark on a new school year journey, one thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is the importance of recess, and keeping it part of the curriculum. Play is an essential tool in a child’s development. Research shows that outdoor free play gives kids many valuable benefits, including the development of physical, emotional, social and cognitive skills. However, school districts across the United States have put less value on recess in recent years in an effort to make more time for instruction. For instance, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the Center on Education Policy found in a 2007 report that 20 percent of school districts decreased the amount of time spent on recess. In spite of this, there have been many more school districts across the
country – from Florida to Minnesota and beyond – reevaluating recess and putting it back on the schedule, and for good reason. The International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) is the playground industry's leading playground safety certification organization. Its Voice of Play initiative promotes growth in the quality and quantity of children’s free play and the use of playgrounds. This year, it conducted the inaugural Voice of Play Parent Survey. 1,000 U.S. parents ages 18 and over were surveyed online by Wakefield Research to discover parental attitudes on kids’ play and its benefits. IPEMA’s members strive to provide equipment and surfacing that engages children in social, imaginative and physically rewarding fun play experiences. With this research, the hope is to share how parents value play, and use this as an opportunity to promote why play is an essential life activity in every child’s development – reinforcing the message to schools and educational professionals across the country.
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Highlights from the 2017 Play Parent Survey Frequent play is essential
One of the topics discussed in the survey was about how often children play. Parents said that on average, their kids play four days per week. 42 percent of respondents said that their kids play four to six days per week, 30 percent said one to three days per week, 24 percent said their kids play every day and four percent claimed they do not play at all. In addition, parents who had four or more children were more likely to have kids that play outside seven days per week. The percentage of children who spend time playing seven days per week was as follows: 26 percent of children being less than five years old, 29 percent being five to nine years old and 18 percent being 10 and above. No matter their age, regular play is important for all children. According to the publication, The Benefits of Recess in Primary School by Dr. Anthony D. Pellegrini and Dr. Catherine M. Bohn-Gettler, although children can engage in a variety of activities during www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
recess, at least 60 percent of them engage in physically active play. They may even engage in higher levels of activity during recess compared to physical education class. When kids play, they develop motor skills and increase both their flexibility and balancing skills. They also build stronger muscles and improve bone density, improving heart and lung function, all of which help fight obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol. These benefits from free, unstructured play, have a positive effect on classroom behavior and achievement.
Outdoor play is preferred
Indoors or out? Another trend gleaned from the Play Parent Survey was that most parents agree that their kids enjoy playing outdoors significantly more than indoors. While there are benefits to play of all kinds, no matter the location, outdoor free play is an essential part of every child’s healthy growth and development. However, while respondents expressed that their kids enjoyed outdoor play more, the survey revealed that a more significant amount of time is spent playing indoors. Millennial parents said that their children play for an average of 4.11 hours, Generation X said 2.66 hours and Baby Boomer parents, 2.47 hours. 40 percent of respondents said their kids play for two to three hours indoors, 35 percent said more than three hours, 14 percent said one hour and 11 percent said less than one hour. An important pledge that every parent can make is to prioritize play and commit to a goal of an hour of outdoor play each and every day. With an increase in the number of schools allowing more time for recess, this goal can be achieved.
Valuing play differently among generations
The Play Parent Survey uncovered generational differences among parents in play attitudes and behaviors. Play has a long list of benefits that are integral to a child’s future development. Yet many parents recognize select benefits more than others. For example, Baby Boomer parents were confident to respond that children who play benefit physically (93 percent), socially (87 percent), emotionally (85 percent) and cognitively (80 percent). This compares to Millennials, who ranked each attribute the lowest of all generations: socially (75 percent), physically (74 percent), cognitively (68 percent) and emotionally (65 percent). This presents an opportunity www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
for increased education on why play is critically important. Research shows that children use free play to express their emotions and learn to deal with their fears and “scary” experiences. Free play allows children to fully express themselves without anything holding them back. It also encourages them to develop skills that build selfconfidence, such as conflict resolution and imaginative dramatic play. Social development with children—and the ability to play on their own—are also important factors in building self-confidence.
Year-round play is key
Understanding that at some times, it may be impossible, play is important all times of year. Even when temperatures dip, kids still need time outside. However, parents in the survey prioritized play the most during the summer months. 89 percent agree that outdoor play is important in the summer, while 84 percent say the same of spring, 76 percent of fall and only 45 percent of winter. Additionally, Millennial parents don’t see year-round play as important as their Boomer counterparts. While both Millennial and Boomer parents find playtime in the summer months most important, Millennial parents agree at only 74 percent, while Boomers come in at 93.5 percent. Similarly, 57 percent of Boomer parents think play is important in winter, as compared to 39 percent of Millennial parents. Outdoor play gives kids an opportunity to visit with friends outside of the classroom, meet new peers and play fun and imaginary games that they might not be able to play at home. This is essential year-round, even when the weather turns cooler. Interacting with children outside of the classroom also allows for group play, where kids learn about real-life relationships. When children develop relationships, they learn self-control and negotiation skills, as well as survival skills, independence and acceptable group activities to build on as they grow up. Group play helps children prepare for a lifetime of interacting with others.
Keeping recess safe
The mission of IPEMA is to improve playground safety. Safety should be a top priority when kids play, as parents value the security of knowing their kids are safe on the playground. Falling is the number
one cause of injuries on the playground, so it’s important to restrict children from playing on equipment placed on hard surfaces like asphalt, concrete and packed earth or grass. Playground surfacing should be IPEMA certified engineered wood fiber, shredded rubber, rubber tiles, turf with shock absorbing underlay, or poured-in-place rubber surfacing. Other things to look out for on playgrounds in schools and neighborhoods include choosing well-maintained playgrounds, appropriate equipment to meet the needs of the age of the child playing, and ensuring there is enough room underneath and around the equipment. Safe equipment means happy, safe and thriving children.
Back to basics: Let’s keep recess
96 percent of the parents surveyed in the Play Parent Survey agreed that play outside of the classroom enhances learning that occurs in school. 81 percent also said that the American education system is lacking in that it does not encourage enough free play time. Learning in the classroom will always be the primary methodology for primary education. The trend towards more recess and free play time can help balance sedentary learning environments with our children’s needs for movement and free play.
ABOUT TOM NORQUIST
Tom Norquist is a founding board member, past president and current marketing chair committee of IPEMA. Under his leadership, IPEMA formed their value of play outreach effort through the Voice of Play website. Additionally, Tom is a long-term active American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) representative and board member for the National Institute for Play. He is a skilled marketer, product innovator and children’s advocate for safer, creative, inclusive and fun play. Visit http://voiceofplay.org to learn more.
• https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-favorite-subject-returns-to-schools-recess-1497358800 • http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/The_Benefits_of_Recess_in_Primary_School
FALL 2017 PLAY AND PLAYGROUND MAGAZINE 11
From the Play & Playground Encyclopedia
Research over 630 listings of play and playground related companies, organizations, events, books, magazines, safety, people and blogs.
Image courtesy of Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock.com
RECREATION HAS BEEN DEFINED as a refreshment by means of some pastime, diversion, exercise, or other activity that results in relaxation and enjoyment.1 Research has shown that recreation improves the quality of life for individuals, raising their overall satisfaction with life. It can also help counteract stress and contribute to an individual’s health and wellness.2 Since recreation is anything that is stimulating and rejuvenating for an individual, there is a wide range of activities to be enjoyed that are voluntarily chosen by an individual’s interests and preferences. Nature hikes, fishing, skiing, swimming, and camping can all be considered recreational activities as well as organized sports, such as football, baseball, soccer, and hockey. Afterschool recreation for children might be participating in martial arts, a dance class, band practice, a chess tournament, or a pick-up basketball game.3 Recreation commonly occurs during an adult’s free time away from work or outside of school for children. The amount of free time has significantly increased for both adults and children in the last 150 years. Until the early twentieth century children worked long hours alongside adults in factories and
mines, usually six days a week, with little free time until child labor legislation freed them from this burden. With unoccupied free time available, children were seen as a problem as they engaged in drinking, gambling, and other unlawful activities. Concerned that children needed safe, protected, and stimulating places to play, the public demanded structured play opportunities and supervision that prompted the playground movement. Organized recreation programs were promoted by civic associations, city governments, law enforcement agencies, and churches. The National Association of Boys’ Clubs was founded in 1906, the Boy Scouts and Camp Fire Girls in 1910, and the Girl Scouts in 1912.4 In 1918, the National Education Association (NEA) adopted the “Seven Cardinal Principles of Education,” one of which was the “worthy use of leisure.” This encouraged classroom, such as band, debate, choir, special interest clubs, hobby groups, and intramural activities.5 Approximately 45 million children play competitive school sports. The top team sports for children ages 6 through 17 are basketball, baseball, soccer, football, and volleyball.6 Local governments are involved in offering organized activities, such as Little League baseball, Pop Warner football,In 1918, the National Education Association (NEA) adopted the “Seven Cardinal Principles of Education,” one of which was the “worthy use of leisure.” This encouraged AYSO soccer, and summer recreational programs.7 Public parks have areas designated primarily for public recreational use that include ball fields and playgrounds. Greenways, trails, nature preserves, and open space areas are governed by park and recreation associations.8 In 2016, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) released the results of a Penn State University study that found Americans strongly support their park and recreation
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services with 90% identifying parks and recreation as an important service provided by their local government. On average 80% of Americans had visited a local park or recreation facility within the past year on an average of slightly less than 29 times per year. The primary reason given for visiting local park and recreation facilities was to be with family and friends, with other reasons given to increase their level of physical activity and the desire to be closer to nature.9 Private for-profit companies have emerged to offer recreational activities, such as river rafting and mountaineering. The desire for more extreme sports have added sky diving, bungee jumping, BASE jumping, hang gliding, rock climbing, caving, backpacking, snowboarding, and skiing to the list of adventurous recreation.10 Footnotes
1. “Recreation.” Dictionary.com. <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/recreation> 19 July 2017. 2. “The Health and Social Benefits of Recreation.” California State Parks. March 2005. < https:// www.parks.ca.gov/pages/795/files/health_benefits_081505.pdf > 19 July 2017. 3. Pan, Wendy. “Examples of Recreational Activities – Fun Things to Do.” EzineArticles. com. <http://ezinearticles.com/?Examplesof-Recreatoinal-Activities---Fun-Things-toDo&id=1566968> 19 July 2017. 4. “Organized Recreation and Youth Groups.” faqs.org. Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society. <http://www.faqs. org/childhood/Me-Pa/Organized-Recreationand-Youth-Groups.html> 19 July 2017. 5. “The Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education.” University of Notre Dame. < https:// www3.nd.edu/~rbarger/www7/cardprin.html > 19 July 2017. 6. Langhorst, Paul. “Youth Sports Participation Statistics and Trends.” Engage Sports. < http:// www.engagesports.com/blog/post/1488/youthsports-participation-statistics-and-trends . 19 July 2017. 7. Op. cit., “Organized Recreation and Youth Groups.” 8. “What is ‘Parks & Recreation?’” NRPA.org. <http://www.nrpa.org/Explore-Parks-AndRecreation/What-is-Parks-and-Rec/What-isParks---Recreation.aspx> 12 Nov. 2010. 9. “What is ‘Parks & Recreation?’” NRPA.org. <http://www.nrpa.org/Explore-Parks-AndRecreation/What-is-Parks-and-Rec/What-isParks---Recreation.aspx> 12 Nov. 2010. 10. “List of Extreme Sports: Expression Through Action.” EXTREME. < https://www.extremesportscompany.com/list-of-extreme-sports > 19 July 2017. www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
SHAPED BY PLAY At Landscape Structures, we believe that childhood play instills important values into kids, and helps create the leaders of tomorrow. In other words, play shapes us. That’s why we partnered with the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development to research what we already know: the simple pleasure of play is an essential part of healthy development. Request a copy of our whitepaper at shapedbyplay.com.
VISIT US AT NRPA IN BOOTH 2139 Insta Insta
©2017 Landscape Structures Inc.
Image courtesy of jordache/Shutterstock.com
The Development of Community Play in Takoma Park, Maryland
WHAT DO YOU PLAY in your community? If you are a child you may play a sport, take lessons in martial arts, play an instrument or all of the above. Maybe you are a super senior and you play table tennis or board games are your thing. You could be any age and signed up for a yoga class. I am guessing at some point in your life you played something. Do you go outside and play just for the fun of it? When I was a child that is what I did almost daily. I put on my play clothes and ran as fast as I could out the door to play with friends. We played touch football in the street and basketball on my friend Robin’s hoop in her driveway. I rode my bike to the YMCA to play tennis, and basketball with mostly guys. I batted around a tennis ball before I actually knew how to play. In March 2009 I founded a play committee in my town because I just didn’t
The flyer for Let’s Play Takoma Week was created by my new Intern Mikentha Bobo if you are in the DC area September 17-24, 2017, come play with us.
see kids or adults outside playing nearly as much as when I was kid growing up in the '60s and '70s. As a former physical education teacher and coach I found it alarming to see the decline in fun free play, so I felt compelled to do something about it. Where are all the kids? Why are they not outside playing? These questions crossed my mind, so when I met with a group of people we brainstormed about what we could do to encourage people to come out and play. Takoma Park, Maryland, borders Washington, DC, Silver Spring and Langley Park, Maryland. We are a walkable community with a metro, a thriving business community, tree-lined streets and fourteen playgrounds scattered in our two and a half-mile area. I am not saying I never see kids out playing on a nice day, but believe me; it is nothing like when I was a kid. In September 2009 we held our first Play Day. We planned about twenty activities for people of all ages, so they could play whatever they liked. Children as young as three tried mini tennis with me and even had my good friend Colleen, 82 years young, join in on the fun. Our State Senator Raskin led Simon Says to a group of people of all ages. The Director of the Recreation Department was so supportive of us that she said to me, “Pat, this was such a success we will reserve the Middle School for you next year.” Eventually, I became The Play Lady. As time went by we not only planned an annual Play Day in September, but also a Mid-Winter Play Day. This coming February 11, 2018 will be our 8th Annual Mid-Winter Play Day. Come join us to play! This fun free event is held in our Community Center. People tell me all
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"Where are all the kids? Why are they not outside playing?" the time how much they love this event. It gives them something to do on a day when nothing else is going on. Plus they enjoy the spontaneous play of trying on the dress-up clothes, playing in the balloon game room, decorating a cookie, playing with play dough and being creative with the just boxes activity.
Photo courtesy of Selena Malott
Watch a short video of our last MidWinter Play Day: Takoma Park City TV, Mid-winter Play Day www.youtube.com/watch?v=39cvKvVx6v0
By the second play day, we had a mud pie event. Folks, if you haven’t created a mud pie in your life or recent years, you don’t know what you are missing, I suggest you gather your materials, go outside, invite some kids to join you and get cracking making your pie. I have been so fortunate to have all kinds of people from a variety of backgrounds join me to play. It doesn’t matter what you like. Play is so broad we could have a mile-long www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
list of what people enjoy. You may prefer to play a sport, but your family member or friend may prefer crocheting. I urge you to give yourself some much-needed playtime as soon as possible and as often as possible. I personally strive to play daily, which reminds me, it is Tuesday night and I need to get ready to go walk to Games Night. I can’t miss a chance to play. For those of you who want to know more about the Development of Community Play in Takoma Park, Maryland, I suggest you click on www.letsplayamerica.org. Check out our events and then go to the Press tab. You will find a slew of information. If you want to save time watch the link below to one of my two TEDxTalks on play. TedxNavasink www.tedxnavesink.com/project/pat-rumbaugh
If you are looking for ways to form a play club, plan a play event and more then check out the Blog Posts I wrote for Psychology Today. Once you have had your fill of play information shoot me an email email@example.com and Ask The Play Lady a play question. PS Let’s Play Takoma Week is September 17-24, 2018 the goal is to raise the awareness for the importance of play for everyone and to raise funds for Let’s Play America.
Hurray for play! - Pat, The Play Lady
Playground Pumps for parks, splash pads, schools and more! The photo above was taken by Selena Malott before our 7th Mid-Winter Play Day, my former Intern Alison Reynolds and I are on the seesaw with several volunteers behind us.
Call Today 800-339-2601 or Visit www.BisonPumps.com
T H I N K I N G T O DAY
Have a question for the Play Lady? Email your question to Pat at
A B O U T T O M O R R O W ’S P L AY ™
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FALL 2017 PLAY AND PLAYGROUND MAGAZINE 15
“Awesome” Partners Changing Communities Through Meaningful Public / Private Partnerships
by Chad Kennedy SEVERAL YEARS of relative stability in the California economy have shed a light on the results from years of economic turmoil in the State. Unfortunately, despite a more stable economy, the level of devastation to local jurisdictions can be seen in crumbling parks infrastructure. This damage will continue to be felt for a very long time. With few exceptions, visits to municipal pocket, neighborhood, and community parks will reveal the depth to which local governments were impacted. An astute
observer might notice trees that haven’t been pruned in many years, patchy grass infested with broadleaf weeds, or missing shrubs and flowering plants that were never replaced after drought conditions required water to be shut off. Other visitors might notice the perpetually closed restrooms which have fallen prey to vandals, the absence of tables and benches that have succumbed to disrepair, drinking fountains that, when all the stars align, might at best release trickles of water, or playgrounds with shedding paint and boarded up slides and panels because budgets won’t allow
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for replacements. This devastation to parks is referred to as deferred maintenance and primarily results from years of neglect when funds were not earmarked for park and open space maintenance. The impacts of deferred maintenance are being felt to a greater degree at facilities funded through municipal general fund allocations, where direct and intentional maintenance mechanisms do not exist. Many communities are millions of dollars behind in basic maintenance and will struggle for years to catch up with a baseline standard. Though this www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
description illustrates a dire situation, many communities are stepping up to the challenge to make lemonade out of the lemons they are faced. One method many communities have been using to combat deferred maintenance is a public / private partnership model. This model maximizes the power of the citizen to raise awareness and funds through teaming with municipalities with stronger support for infrastructure, resources, and stability. The Awesome Spot Playground (TASP) team in conjunction with The City of Modesto, CA is an â&#x20AC;&#x153;awesomeâ&#x20AC;? example of how this model works. The mission of the TASP team is to address inequality of access to recreation and play in their region through the development, maintenance, and programming of a socially inclusive and sensory integrated play space designed specifically to break down barriers that www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
inhibit children, siblings, adults, and grandparents from participating in play with each other. Individuals typically left on the play sidelines due to barriers include: persons with disabilities, individuals on the autism spectrum, and those with moderate to severe sensory processing disorder (well over 10% of the population in California). For the past year and a half, this small group of grassroots community advocates (started by Rachel Loredo, a mother of a child with physical disabilities), which includes local design professionals, a Clinical Director with the Central Valley Autism Project, and City staff, have been working tirelessly to create a vision for the Awesome Spot Playground. The team is comprised of professionals that are directly involved with the disability industry and recreation systems, and therefore are intimately familiar with the ever-changing needs of families and
maintenance needs of the facility. The TASP team joined with the City in order to capitalize on the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s benefits including municipal resources, security, insurance, and funding. These resources, coupled with the ingenuity, fundraising capacity, skilled labor, and support building expertise found within the local community create a much stronger diversity of assets, which will be critical for the successful completion of the project. This format has allowed the team to engage the community in various ways as the project moves forward including community fundraisers, crowd-funding, private sponsorships and pledges, private and public grants, and in-kind donations. The following are necessary components and keys to an effective partnership program and are being utilized to make the Awesome Spot Playground a reality:
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Public / Private Partnership Program Basics
Partner programs start with the community. Success is contingent on citizens expressing interest in developing or maintaining a project in a park or park facility, preferably in their own neighborhood. Once a core group of citizens is organized, municipality staff can help organize volunteer labor groups, coordinate community outreach meetings to foster community-wide support, develop feasible goals and outcomes, and prepare fundraising programs. Following all of these efforts, provided they are successful, community groups will then install and maintain the project under supervision from City staff and a licensed and trained contractor. The responsibilities of each party involved in the public/private partnership include: • Municipality - Provide project location and access, assistance with organization and permitting, and management oversight needed to complete the project. • Community - Provide volunteer labor to install the project (sweat equity value), efforts to rally the community, and fundraise for the majority of costs through sponsorships, donations, and in-kind services or materials. The benefits to each party in the partnership include: • Municipality - Additional funding for projects, community support for municipal facilities, community awareness and engagement, reduction in deferred maintenance projects, and potential long-term solutions for ongoing maintenance. • Community - Community togetherness, increased utilization
of public facilities, redevelopment and modernization of public facilities, development of unique public spaces, development of community leadership, input in the design and development of public facilities, community ownership of public facilities, and the opportunity to expedite development of public facilities.
Components of a Successful Program
Experience with programs of this type have shown that successful programs are dependent on the right combination of a few key components. These are: • A process for matching funds / procedures / policy • Development of a committed team to fundraise & implement • Training of community organizers that know the process • Establishment of a foundation or a non-profit group • Dedication of municipal staff to support the effort • Regular communication Matching Funds / Procedures / Policy - Prior to program initiation, the municipality must be prepared and setup for the program to function correctly. Firstly, this includes a method for matching funds to help the community stay motivated and to provide buy-in from both sides of the table. In most cases, the community will have better success with fundraising when there is also a component of municipal matching as it shows commitment on both sides to complete the project. Procedures must also be in place to streamline approvals, permits, and reviews. Governmental internal processes can very easily slow down a project and literally destroy community morale and momentum. When procedures are
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streamlined and all parties are aware of what to expect, the program will run more smoothly. Lastly, policies need to be in place so that community groups know what they are responsible for and what responsibilities are the municipality’s. This is also the mechanism to determine what project parameters, limitations, and opportunities are and what ultimate completion will look like. Development of a Committed Team - There will be no shortage of citizens who express the desire to get involved and head up a project; however, there will be very few who actually follow-through. Communication with potential candidates for a committee team should focus on the realities of project requirements and levels of effort involved with successful projects. Teams, not individuals, should be encouraged to head up projects, as most often the effort is too great for any single person to accomplish. Up front communication will naturally sift out those who are marginally committed. Once a team is in place, they can be introduced to other community organizers and programs that may offer support through the process such as Lions Clubs, Rotary Clubs and others. Other local organizations and corporations may also be willing to provide advice and counsel to help teams and projects get started. Reaching out to these professionals to join a team is also a fantastic way to increase team capabilities and expertise. This strategy has been successful for the TASP team. By leveraging the varying skillsets of team members, the group has managed to develop a strong, cohesive, and effective team that is hurdling towards the goal of a constructed project. Training Community Organizers Municipal protocols and politics can be convoluted and difficult to understand, much less navigate. Municipal staff will need to take the time to walk citizens through all the required processes, onestep at a time, in order to educate and prepare them for what to expect. Many projects will go through a planning and approval process, followed by plan reviews, public bidding and procurements, permitting, and construction. When possible, transitioning citizens from one project to another or training a consistent liaison can help with training of new citizen groups that join the program. Establishment of a Non-Profit - It www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
is crucial to have an organization or foundation established that can provide a means for citizen groups to fundraise through, apply for grants, and have name recognition. It takes a great deal of time to establish a 501c3 or a foundation, which can be discouraging and prohibitive, so if this is in place ahead of time, projects and motivated individuals are more likely to succeed. An effective nonprofit organization will be nimble enough to adapt to the variety of community projects that come up and the myriad methods of fundraising that occur, both large and small. Dedication of Municipal Staff to Support the Effort - Public perception is key to success for community led projects because community teams need public buy-in and support to make projects happen. One way to bolster community support is to show strong support through City staff, whether through attendance at outreach meetings, in-kind donations and labor, and/or allocating capital improvement funds to assist the project as it moves forward. A strong display of support from City staff goes a long way in the public eye. Regular Communication - Nothing will halt a project as quickly as a lack of communication. All team players need to know what is going in order to keep a project moving in a positive direction. Communication between the team and the City should be constant and consistent. The TASP team updates their 501c3 fiscal agent and City staff with an official update letter on a regular basis highlighting events that were held and successes in fundraising. Communication with the public is also highly important. The TASP team uses four main modes of communication to disseminate information and to keep the community informed of progress. First, they have developed and maintain an active website with complete www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
and up-to-date information on news, sponsorships, and events. Second, they effectively utilize social media (including over 1,100 followers on Facebook). Third, they send a monthly email to a large list of interested individuals. And, fourth, they communicate to the community through local news coverage which follows the project and provides regular media updates. The Private / Public Partnership program model described has been successful in communities throughout Northern California and is a great example of how communities and government agencies can come together to make change happen at a local level, raising the standard of living and changing lives in their own sphere of influence. To learn more about the Awesome Spot Playground community effort and how it has utilized this model to better the community, visit the following websites.
Maintaining your parks and playgrounds just got a lot easier.
Mr. Kennedyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s interest in advocacy for persons with disabilities originates from employment at the Center for Persons with Disabilities and from a year-long interdisciplinary disability course he participated in at the Center. His employment at the Center made a lasting impression and has been a guide and passion during his subsequent career. He is a licensed landscape architect, a certified playground safety inspector, and an advocate for equal play opportunity. He has designed many socially inclusive playgrounds in the California region, and speaks nationally on the subject.
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FALL 2017 PLAY AND PLAYGROUND MAGAZINE 19
Russian Children Play Freely
by Liliya Shabutdinova, Lisa Pleskan-Negro REMEMBER YOUR CHILDHOOD. If you climbed the trees, scrambled along large boulders, ran along the roof of the garage, built houses on the trees and built snow fortresses, rolled down from the green hill and built a shelter, then you surely know and remember that wonderful feeling of freedom and pleasure, that kids have from playing freely. In our childhood we had yards, where kids could play all day long until their parents would call them home. Now in Russia, every yard has a kids "playground". These basic plastic playgrounds are safe, but completely boring for kids. They also require total control from parents. Kids do not have an ability to run, to jump, be themselves and do what they want, without shoutings from parents: "Don't go there! Don't climb! " Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve probably already heard about helicopter parents? This problem with parents is also relevant in Russia. An outstanding Polish educator, writer and doctor Janusz Korczak wrote about this trap: "In fear that death can take away our child, we take the child away from life..."
The concept of the children's entertainment center Yeti is based on the desire to give children the freedom. Freedom of movement, freedom of play and creative freedom. Those are the things that children from big cities are missing. Reasonable risk is necessary for the child in order to develop self-control
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and responsibility. This is how the child gets to know his resources and learn to evaluate his abilities. That's why Yeti has an obstacle course, vertical labyrinth with complex transactions and multistory crocheted labyrinth. A giant four-level structure is one of the main attractions in Yeti. It was handmade by 42 craftsmen. In took
572 kilometers of rope to create this labyrinth . From outside it looks light and airy, but in reality it can withstand up to 11 tons per square meter. You can climb, jump, roll down and even run on it. It's not just a simple game element, but a real simulator for all the muscles. We tried to find a balance between the necessary risks and the need to protect children from serious injuries. In addition to the active zone , there is also a creative one - a large construction site, filled with blocks, with which children can build everything they can imagine. The playgrounds of this type are called "unstructured playgrounds", unlike toys or games by the rules, here children can model their own playing space. There are 5 different types of constructor kits in Yeti. The concept of the playground was developed taking into account modern theories of child development. Yeti was created as a space for free play. We are guided by the principle of child directed play or "a game aimed at the child." In the Yeti there are no ready-made plot decisions. And this is especially important in our time, when the child's life goes according to the prepared script almost from birth: games with a ready plot, toys with a given program, a building kit with the assembly instruction attached to it, etc. We want the children to have an opportunity to take an active author's position. In Yeti , from the age of 6, children play on their own. In each www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
zone there are instructors and playmakers who unobtrusively watch after kids and, if necessary, help children in the realization of their projects. Children from one to five have a separate area with their parents. Here we also tried to collect a maximum of "open" toys with high game value, so that children could freely fantasize and make their own discoveries. Swings Gonge, which are more like a rotating bin. Or a balance board that can become like a swing, a hammock, and a slide. And of course a giant turquoise sandbox with natural quartz crumbs. One of the tasks, when creating the playground, was to take into account not only different age groups, but also different levels of activity of children. Someone wants to run and climb to the top of the labyrinth, but someone prefers to hide in a corner with good books. This is especially important for children with special needs. Yeti includes therapeutic equipment. In order to make our dream of an inclusive playground come true, a Russian company Sova-Nyanka provided us with a professional equipment for sensory integration. And now in our child's center every week special children come to play and practice. It seems to us that we managed to create a playground for a great childhood, where children with different opportunities and needs can freely play with pleasure.
Lisa Pleskan-Negro was born in Ufa, Russia. She is the daughter of Vladislav Pleskan, founder of the children's entertainment center Yeti. She studied in Newman University in Wichita, Kansas, and graduated with Bachelor of Art. She got married in the United States and shortly after that moved to the south of France. Currently she is working as a graphic designer at a printing company in France and does a part-time job as a graphic designer for Yeti. Lisa loves to read, buy beautifully illustrated books and collects Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Lilia Shabutdinova is engaged in social media and marketing for Yeti, with a background as a preschool teacher and a psychologist. He has worked as a journalist and editor at the Sobesednik publishing house. You can find Lilia’s blog about education and children’s books on Instagram: www. instagram.com/domaugnoma/ , focusing on progressive approaches in children education, modern playgrounds and kids spaces. Lilia is married with two daughters. In november 2016 in Ufa Russia a unique children’s entertainment center, Yeti, was opened.You can find different types of playgrounds for kids from 1 to 12 years old in the space of 1000 square meters. The majority of the playgrounds that are presented in Yeti cannot be found anywhere else in Russia. At the heart of the concept, the author of the project, Vladislav Pleskan, laid an idea of creating an alternative to the typical outdoor Russian yard : a space where kids can play and self-express freely. All the popular formats of playground’s in Russia have scenario limitations. The child is pretty much offered to play a game by a certain set of rules and his task is to fit into the rules and play.
FALL 2017 PLAY AND PLAYGROUND MAGAZINE 21
The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions by Kenneth S. Kutska
ON SEPTEMBER 8, 2004, international playground safety consultant Monty L. Christiansen (today retired Professor Emeritus, Penn State University), presented the keynote address to the Japan Playground Facilities Association (JPFA) National Playground Safety Conference entitled “International Playground Safety Standards − An ASTM International Case Study: The American Experience in Retrospect: Best Intentions Gone Awry”. The conclusions presented by Professor Christiansen thirteen years ago are still very relevant today to all playground standards writing organizations. This paper revisits these points and enlarges them in perspective of the international situation today. Public playground safety standard stakeholders convening in Canada on November 20 – 22, 2017 will be discussing the possibility and need for a worldwide safety standard for playgrounds and equipment. I had the pleasure of working with Professor Christiansen (hereafter “Monty”) on many projects related to the care and feeding of public playgrounds primarily in North America, but also in Asia and Europe. We two, along with Dr. Fran Wallach, created the National Monty L. Christiansen (retired Professor Emeritus, Penn State University) in Sri Lanka, 2005
Playground Safety Institute (NPSI) in 1989 under the umbrella of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Monty was never satisfied with the limited scope of the NPSI and eventually founded the International Playground Safety Institute (IPSI) in 2005. He had a vision to bring playground management and public playground safety issues to other like-minded parts of the world who shared in his passion for safe yet challenging play spaces for all children. The formation of IPSI came about as a result of very successful 1995 and 1999 International Conferences on Playground Safety held at the Penn Stater Conference Center, University Park, Pennsylvania, both conferences chaired by Monty. Selected portions of the proceedings of these conferences are being reprinted and distributed to prepare participants for the November 2017 Toronto Conference: Harmonizing Opportunities Towards a World Playground Standard. While Monty is unable to participate in the Toronto Conference, his past words and efforts will help to define the task at hand as we wrestle with the future direction of playground safety standards. I have taken the liberty, with his approval, to re-emphasize his concerns and challenges to all stakeholders while bringing a bit more focus to where the playground safety standards movement is today thirteen years after his invited keynote presentation in Japan. Many organizations are actively involved in promoting best practices for public playground management. Each has the children’s best interest in mind however, their approach to the myriad
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of issues involved are often at opposite ends of the continuum between what a risk is and when the level of risk of harm becomes a hazard. I see a fine line between what is considered acceptable risk and where the risk of harm exceeds what society considers acceptable. Regardless of what side of this line you find yourself I think we can all agree there is a need for challenging play experiences for children of all abilities. We also can agree that challenge should not pose a risk of harm which exceeds the balance of the benefits of risky play versus the determent of an increase in debilitating and life-threatening injuries. In North America, several documents influence public playground management decisions when it comes to playground safety issues. One is a guideline published by a federal agency, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Another is a voluntary performance standard established by the American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM), the world’s largest non-government standards development organization. Over the past 25 years ASTM has published many more playground equipment and impact attenuating surfacing standards. In Canada, CSA Z614 is a very comprehensive standard related to the many aspects of the public playground environment. The application of this safety criteria has had some diametrically polarized results, which can serve as examples of issues to be considered by all standards writing organizations when it comes to children’s consumer products. www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
Need for playground safety standards
The need for playground safety standards in the United States arose as a result of several serious injuries and fatalities that occurred during a relatively short time period in the last 30 to 40 years. These injuries were sensationalized through local and national print and broadcast media. It was a perfect storm brought about by the need for more public playgrounds, the media’s interest in some of the more serious injuries, and rising number of litigations filed demanding compensation for recovery of injury costs and punitive damages. Several huge financial awards consequently led to a strong public demand for increased safety. Many well minded individuals and organizations believed the problem of playground injuries was “solvable.” They believed the problem of rising frequency of serious playground injuries could be resolved through the development and compliance to safety standards based upon facts learned through the collection and analysis of injury data.
Impact of safety standards on playgrounds: Linking Cause and Effect Initially, these safety recommendations have resulted in: • More multi-play composite structures and fewer freestanding single event play components • More single-surface areas to reduce costs associated with the required protective surfacing under and around all play components • Fewer to almost no forced motion equipment resulting more often in less challenging stationary equipment • Less opportunities to stimulate imagination, more specificity in design leading to very similar cookie cutter type designs • More repetitive climbing events as a result of the very popular post and deck composite structures leading to less variety of use • Environmental stimuli (wind, sun/ shade, sound, movement, natural play materials, dirt/sand and water) are now seldom taken into account www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
in playgrounds • Too many new playgrounds consist of only a single multi-play composite structure with one type of surfacing material which is selected primarily on cost and the manufacturer’s claim their materials meet he minimum standard requirements for impact attenuation and accessibility, where applicable. This is sort of a Swiss Army Knife approach to multi-use. • Playgrounds are no longer a spacious play space with separation of various equipment and structures, with space to run, jump, roll, etc. on the surface when off the equipment. These outcomes are based on: • Fear of litigation and associated costs • Cost of compliance to today’s safety recommendations • Need to comply with accessibility legislation. • Lack of open space Safety criteria are a result of identifying hazards through accident data analysis, sharing past industry experience, known litigation, applying requirements based on anthropometrics and an understanding of how children will use the structures in unintended ways. Anthropometrics is better known as the application of body measurements by ages of the intended users to make the man-made environment more user friendly. As a result of these actions more
playgrounds are being designed for a limited age group which can prevent multi-age interaction found in a reasonably safe public space intended for use by all people.
Change of U.S. accident data after 35+ years of safety standards
In the U.S., strike-impact fatalities have decreased and head and neck entrapment deaths have almost been totally eliminated. Strangulation fatality percentages have increased; however it seems many of these are more about how the child is dressed and what they bring with them to the playground than the equipment entanglement hazards created by the equipment configuration or improper or inadequate inspection and maintenance practices. Fall-related percentages, primarily an increase of long-bone injuries and concussions, have increased. Many speculate this statistic is more about the use of unitary surface systems that do not disperse and cause more direct stress and less user lateral movement after initial impact, but this may also be attributed to a surface systems being installed at or near the maximum impact threshold limits allowed. There international community is recognizing that all the playground safety surfacing performance standards are based upon the reducing the likelihood of a serious head injury, specifically brain concussion as a result of a vertical fall and the sudden resulting impact onto the falling child’s head. A vertical fall
Playgrounds without proper safety surfacing increase the likelihood of fall-related injuries. FALL 2017 PLAY AND PLAYGROUND MAGAZINE 23
with the child landing directly on their head is a rather uncommon occurrence, but concussions can occur other than in this scenario. In the Zurich 2008 International Conference on concussion, the mechanism of a concussion was defined as an impact to the head or upper body that transfer energy to the head and brain. The gold standard when developing today’s standards for fall impact related injuries might well be to consider all mechanisms of serious injuries. We know that standards and their rationale were first developed on information based on research available over 50 years ago with the goal to prevent death. We also know there is new research and data available today but standards writing organizations have been slow to see the need for and embrace any new approach to injury reduction in impact injuries resulting from falls to the surface. If reduction in serious injuries is an international health mandate for children why aren’t we looking beyond just critical and severe head injuries and consider all types of serious fall related injuries? Some have argued the rationale for such change is based on the automotive industry and not on research related to the actual playground. This is a true statement but have we forgotten that all the research used to get the playground industry to where it is today on fall related injuries and other impact injuries comes from the automotive industry?
Impact of safety standards on play value In Monty’s words, “When you give a child a new hammer, he believes everything must be hammered.” In the 1990’s new safety standards (“New Design Hammer”) became the number one selling point for anyone wanting to build a new playground or for any manufacturer’s sales associate trying to sell more of their product. After all who does not want to provide a safe place to play for a child? In the 2000’s the ADA requirements became the new selling point for playground owners and manufacturers. Many said these playground safety and accessibility standards would be the end of public playground. Many predicted the rise of playground safety and accessibility standards would result in fewer
playgrounds and therefore fewer play opportunities for children. This has not been the case. Unfortunately, many playground equipment manufacturers, designers, and owners in the North America, after adoption of playground safety standards and accessible guidelines, designed new play equipment and overall playground area designs primarily with safety and accessibility in mind, and as a result play value may have suffered. New playgrounds became predictable and offered fewer challenges and little stimulation. Fewer challenges lead to boredom and with boredom can come unintended misuse and the consequences that come with this sort of unintended use. Playground owners and designers alike need to understand that with repetition comes mastery; but what happens after mastery? After mastery repetition becomes redundant and boring. Play must be based upon children’s physical, social, emotional, and intellectual levels and must include opportunities for increasing ability, challenge, and competencies as well as opportunities for interactive play with others. We need a better method to measure impact of the new standards. The U.S. has a fairly good system of correlating the application of the standards to injuries. While this system is certainly not perfect and is in need of some updating to reflect today’s industry practices, it does meet the original need. On the other hand it may not be prudent to encourage much more sophistication in playground accident documentation because it may actually put too much emphasis upon the safety aspect of the playground thereby having the exact opposite effect of stunting play value, increasing boredom and injuries resulting in eliminating playgrounds altogether. These facts have started a new discussion on the need to take one of two approaches to standards development. Option 1, we must better define today’s play components (Types) and the many variations of each so those responsible for assessing the compliance of these play components can make a definitive assessment on whether something meets the minimum requirements of the standard. Option 2, we must adopt a new approach to standards writing
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which focuses less on assessing compliance of play component types based on past definitions or perceptions of how something was previously designed and used and start looking at how something might be used and what potential hazards a child might encounter during reasonable foreseeable misuse. The complexity of trying to identify “what free spontaneous play is and where it occurs” coupled with the ability of designers of children’s playgrounds to “predict how children interact with things in their play environment” makes the first option a futile waste of time, energy, and cost. The time has come for a new approach to play area safety standards starting with a solid consensus of our current standard scoping statements followed by a thorough review of all existing playground equipment and surfacing performance requirements. The opportunity for such a new approach is now.
Obstacles and Opportunities to Free Active Play
Childhood obesity in the U.S. has increased dramatically over the past twenty years or so. Several causes are known, including high consumption of a high fat, high sugar, and high carbohydrate diet at home, at fast-food restaurants, and at school. Another possible cause: loss of or shortened recess and physical education in primary and secondary education schools. Another possible cause: less emphasis upon outdoor experiences, play and sport participation, more participation with passive recreation interests such as watching television, personal computer, gaming systems and cell phones; making online social networking easier and more addicting. It may be that children are finding their playgrounds boring and do not return to these areas to use. While overly safe, sometimes referred to as boring, playgrounds cannot be assigned full responsibility for the increased obesity of children, there does need to be a better, quantifiable means to determine the impact of playground provisions to not just safety, but also to fitness and health of children.
We need to distinguish www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
confidence, perceptions of stimulation and gratification, and simple pleasure from playing there.”
Ken’s Conclusions (2017)
between “risk” and “hazards” on playgrounds
We need to provide a variety of risk or challenge opportunities (tolerable or managed risk), but minimize exposure to hazards known to cause debilitating and life-threatening injuries. We need to recognize that “safety” is relative. Nothing is completely safe. Children do need to learn the consequence of activity, of experimentation, of play. Sometimes the consequence is unpleasant, whether the result is disappointment, embarrassment, or physical pain. Low-level pain is not bad and should not be designed out of the possibility of consequence. In other words, too much safety is not necessarily good. The child’s ability to experience failure in a reasonably safe environment is very important to their development. No child should be able to succeed each and every time they try something new. Experiencing failure on the playground is not a bad thing. Lessons learned on the playground are much easier to overcome and learn from than making bad decisions years later when mistakes and poor judgements can be devastating and much harder to overcome. Almost 20 years ago a call was made for an open public discussion and debate on the best approach to establishing a proper balance between risk and safety. Today that same need exists but I suggest we reframe the question. We need to have an open public discussion and debate on the best approach to establishing a proper balance between challenge and injury prevention for our children’s sake and for the sake of society as a whole when our children become adults. We need to identify and consider all the www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
variables that impact a child’s ability to access free play opportunities that stimulate and inspire their imagination.
Monty’s Conclusions (2004)
“Compliance with playground safety criteria is not a guarantee that injuries will be eliminated. Safety criteria should not be design-restrictive. There should be some safety absolutes but there should also be some safety principles that have more flexibility in application. Just as there is variety in food safety and preparation, so too should there be variety in playground safety and development. In the U.S. we do distinguish between home-based playgrounds, soft contained play systems, and public playgrounds. These few distinctions may be too limited. The setting and function of playgrounds may eventually have a larger part in the application of design and safety of playgrounds in public settings. Children have different play needs at pre-school care centers, at schools, at housing estates, at shopping malls or restaurants, and at holiday venues. In some settings, provisions for periodic change may be needed as novelty and challenge diminishes over time. Playgrounds may eventually be considered to be multi-generational, where children are not segregated from adults and older or younger children into “age-appropriate” play areas; but where parents, grandparents, and siblings may interact with each other while engaging in play. The application of anthropometrics will have to take this into consideration. But playgrounds are not “safe” because they are designed for specific child sizes and task-skill capabilities; they are “safe” because the children using them receive
Much of what Monty said still has relevance, however a number of things have occurred since 2004. We need to add a bit more emphasis on some factors that primarily impact playground owners but still have an impact on designers and manufacturers alike. We live in a different world today. Many things have changed over the past 30 to 40 years when the playground safety movement was born and since Monty’s 2004 overview of the situation. We have many more playground related standards to consider. We now have standards for when and where public playground fencing is required. This requirement is based upon its proximity to a hazard which by definition makes it a vulnerable play area. These fences must be designed to restrict exit of the child but also must keep safety hazards outside the playground. These hazards might be a body of water, unauthorized persons, or motor vehicles. Special gates and locking mechanisms are required. Fences must be hazard free, of a specified minimum height, and non-climbable. Where does this stop? One solution does not seem practical with so many variables. How do owners manage such a responsibility when most have unrestricted public access and are not supervised? Supervision or the lack thereof has always been a major concern when it comes to injury prevention. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission first acknowledged this in writing in documents leading up to the first 1981 Handbook. This was one of the injury prevention factors being considered when the CPSC decided it was in everyone’s best interest to not develop a Federal playground safety law. CPSC decided it was more appropriate to develop a playground safety guide consisting of various recommendations that would assist in developing safe public play spaces for children. Beside supervision, the CPSC considered age appropriateness, anthropometrics, site selection and layout, and of course protective surfacing performance. Today, supervision seems to be an even more
FALL 2017 PLAY AND PLAYGROUND MAGAZINE 25
important issue to the owner depending on the type of playground and the intended user group. The public has distinctly different perception of supervision when you compare an unsupervised and uncontrolled public park to a public school. A school playground will obviously be used and monitored during school hours by supervisory staff but it may also be used by the general tax paying public when school is not in session and the playground is not being supervised. Compare these types of play areas to a licensed child care operator’s facility. These facilities require a whole different level of supervision. Supervision is implied and expected by the parent. The cookie cutter approach to public playgrounds is not always the best approach to safety standards or guidelines. Today standards writing organizations have come to realize that prescriptive use standards for the design of playgrounds and playground equipment is a waste of time and effort. These organizations are no more able to keep up with innovation in play apparatus design than they are able to limit its usage to intended design use. Yesterday’s standards were based on injuries sustained over a period of time on the existing types of conventional equipment. The era of the composite post and desk continuous play system is still alive. This type of system serves large numbers of users on one structure and utilizes much less open space than the old fashioned free standing equipment. Today many designers are now going the way of what has been coined “deck-less play systems.” They are creating more challenging play events and for less money. “Mega tube-slide towers” are a trend at destination playgrounds to create the “Wow Factor” with their great vistas. This concept is being coupled with the technology for manufacturing huge seamless stainless steel slides. This has created very high and long sliding experiences through contained access by what is described as “non-climbable structures” where user access is created within the structure. It is also becoming more and more common to see manufacturers and designers combining both similar and/or different equipment types on top of one another. This has
made the application of some playground standards difficult to apply in any consistent fashion. The creation of man-made topography or utilizing existing topography is creating an additional play experience commonly referred to as “play mounds.” These play mounds are replacing the flat play surface in an effort to add imagination and challenge to the playground environment while also reducing fall heights and the related surfacing costs. When these slopes are created they can create other challenges. They may pose potential trip or fall safety concerns to the general public just by being within the play area. Should the surface on or around these mounds be constructed of something other than hard surface? What are the considerations when play components are placed on or adjacent to the base of these mounds? The desire to increase challenge for all playground users introduces a new dimension of management and responsibility for the manufacturer, designer and owner who continue to push the playground design envelope. Local designers, such as Landscape Architects, are pushed to be more involved in the design of play environments and the location of play components. What considerations should be given to their responsibilities and obligations in the overall safety component of the final design? Public playground design and management are entering the era of the risk/ challenge and hazard assessment. More consideration needs to be applied to not just the intended design use and how it complies with today’s safety standards but the need to consider reasonable foreseeable use/misuse must also be considered especially for the youngest and most vulnerable users. Children all over the world need and want to take risks when they play. For children taking a risk is a choice, while hazard assessment is not within their realm of experience or expertise. Play provision aims to respond to these needs and wishes by offering children stimulation, challenging environments for exploring and developing their abilities. In doing this, play provision aims to manage the level of risk so that children are not exposed to unacceptable risks
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of death or serious injury. (Play Safety Forum, 2002) Providing challenge for all children, including those with impairments, is important in good play environments. When developing an open access play space, the widest possible range of abilities needs to be considered, as it is vital to retain different levels of challenge for all. (British Standards Institutions, 2013) Many issues must be considered if the manufacturer, designer, installer, and owner/operator are doing their job. A one size fits all approach is not going to meet the needs of every user. Likewise one playground standard is not likely to be able to address each and every need. Some compromise must always be made along the way. If we are going to be successful in developing a harmonized international playground safety standard the path to be taken will undoubtedly require commitment from all involved, patience and understanding, and yes, compromise. During play, children are often driven by the challenge to do things that takes them to their limits, which in turn, leads to a better knowledge of themselves through experience. This challenge often corresponds to a sense of risk as there are chances for success or failure, even when the probability of an injury is minimal. (British Standards Institution, 2013) “...safety must be considered at all stages of play provision but, inevitably, there will be a risk of injury when children play as there is a risk of injury in life generally. We must not lose sight of the important developmental role of play for children in pursuit of the unachievable goal of absolute safety.” Health and Safety Executive in Play Safety Forum, 2002
KENNETH S. KUTSKA
• IPSI Executive Director 2008 to Present • International Playground Safety Institute, LLC www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
PLAYGROUND MAINTENANCE TECHNICIAN TRAINING The two-day Playground Maintenance Technician Training focuses on practical playground maintenance activities, inspection principles and best practices in making repairs. This program does not focus on play theory or memorizing standards.
Participant Benefits • Learn about materials! Learn how to maintain playground equipment made of metal, plastic, wood and concrete • Learn about safety! Understand how to take damaged equipment out of service safely, keep proper records, and identify potential legal issues related to playground maintenance • Learn about surfaces! Learn how best to maintain unitary and loose-fill surfaces as well as fasteners and connectors • Cost effective! Train front-line maintenance staff at an affordable price • Ensure your equipment lasts through its useful life! Improve playground user safety and prolong the useful life of equipment
Upcoming Playground Maintenance Technician Programs • October 2-3, 2017 – City of Spokane Parks and Recreation, Spokane, WA • October 5-6, 2017 – Oregon Recreation and Park Association, Spring Field, OR • October 24-25, 2017 – Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, Anacortes, WA • October 26 – 27, 2017 - Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation, Carmel, IN • October 31 – Nov. 1, 2017 - Midwest Public Risk, Independence, MO • November 15-16, 2017 - Tennessee Recreation and Park Association, Murfreesboro , TN • December 6-7, 2017 - Naperville Park District, Naperville, IL Want to host a PMT program in your area? Contact the Program Coordinator at the Eppley Institute firstname.lastname@example.org Find out more at
FALL 2017 PLAY AND PLAYGROUND MAGAZINE 27
REEVE'S PEEVES AND OBSESSIONS
Offers an Alternative to NRPA by Ben Almoni For well over 40 years, the fields of play in our nation’s parks have remained stagnant and stifling and barren. The same old same old baseball, football, soccer, rugby, tennis! Rigid, stale, hardened, and unoriginal. A profession at a standstill. Attention, budgets, real estate and space devoted, as always, to the fast-moving combat-type sports with teams defeating teams, marginalizing those with special needs, promoted and advanced by advocates of “healthy competition” which has shown to be a self-contradictory term, an oxymoronic merger of opposites. Our best minds and thinkers from Emily Bazelon and Barbara Coloroso and Alfie Kohn cannot be ignored in the matter of the harm that competition, conflict, and contest cause our communities at the expense of collaboration, cooperation and companionability. I cite 40 years because that’s been the time since my cousin Janice, a childhood ball-playing companion, landed in a wheelchair and when, after a time, we looked around the parks and play-
grounds, we found nothing. Not a single ball-playing sport facility to play together. To drop in, walk on, whenever as we previously took for granted whenever we showed up with a ball to the park. Imagine, not a single ball-playing sports facility to play together. For children without disabilities, plenty; for diversity and inclusion, nothing. Don’t look to the NRPA for creating something out of nothing. Look rather to the NARE, in opposition to the NRPA, taking seriously the facility shortages and missing play for the children with disabilities in our parks - and wonder of wonders, actually successfully addressing the injustice to those children, on behalf of the autistic community, persons with limited mobility and other participants with disabilities. What’s new in our parks? Pickle ball? Fast-moving, variation on tennis; no walk on drop-in inclusion here for people with any type of disability. Rock climbing? Are you kidding? Set up in many parks but I’ve never seen any children playing on them or climbing on them - certainly not a kid using a wheelchair. How does climbing a rock
The views expressed in this column are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Play and Playground magazine. The editors encourage different points of view and discussion on this topic. Please comment on our website www.playgroundprofessionals.com
serve to include that child? Why, over the decades, nothing new? In particular, why no new inclusive ball-playing sports that are played noncompetitively or self-competitively rather than opponent-based; thereby marginalizing and excluding all but a sliver of relatively equal participants? Our parks are far out of balance. We should have many more inclusive playfields such as Bankshot Basketball that are, like bowling and golf, self-competitive. Playing the course, rather than an opponent, achieves inclusion and outreach to diversity. All these years and the NRPA leadership leads to what? Programs? The average kid doesn’t have to wait for a program next week organized and supervised by some adults. Children without disabilities can drop-in at a parks facility any time the weather suggests and the mood is willing. Not for those with disabilities. Not for decades until Bankshot’s perception has become better known and appreciated. Look to THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR RECREATIONAL EQUALITY for creativity, not the NRPA.
REEVE BRENNER See more from Rabbi Reeve Brenner at www.playgroundprofessionals.com/contributors/reevebrenner
www.nareletsplayfair.com 28 PLAY AND PLAYGROUND MAGAZINE FALL 2017
• Total-Mix Diversity based on Universal Design • Inclusive Playcourts Invite Challenging Fun • All Ages and Abilities • Play Alongside, Not Against Others • Non-Competitive Sports Without Opponents Proceed through a course of angled, curved and non-conventionally configured brightly colored backboards, banking shots off the BankboardsTM and through the rims.
Tel: (800) 933-0140 www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
The National Association for Recreational Equality
FALL 2017 PLAY AND PLAYGROUND MAGAZINE 29
DJ Post - Turn the disc, keep turning! This generates energy. Put your phone on loudspeaker and put it in the designated area, under the protective hood. The DJ Post amplifies the sound from your smartphone! No Bluetooth or cables needed! The built-in tech picks up the sound of your smartphone automatically. It is always nice to listen to your own music. Every hangout needs one. Ideal for teens!
A new market in the Playground industry:
Interaction Places by Miriam Levy
HOW WOULD it be if you walk through the city or park and encounter unexpected interaction between people who play and move together with interactive installations? People who move, play and learn together, outside and without screens, using ecological interactive installations. 'Human powered' installations where the users are generating the electricity themselves and not depending on internet. Eduplaying is a company from the Netherlands which produces interactive playground installations and realizes 'Interaction Places'; ready-to-go concepts for all ages, aimed at movement and interaction. Accessible for kids, teens, adults and elderly people and of course also for people with special needs. As market leader in interactive play installations Eduplaying installed thousands of Interaction Places all over the world in the last 10 years. Naf Hershler, the CEO and founder of Eduplaying: “Children and adults of today are sitting too much inside, alone and locked behind their screens. That is not very healthy, as we can see
with the rising problem of obesity. It is proven that being outside and playing and moving together is very healthy. So we thought about a new way to bring people outside, make them move and let them play together. Not only kids, but also adults, elderly people and people with special needs. In order to do that we use the ‘language’ of today which people are attracted to: interactivity. Our installations offer exciting fun games, nice stories and musical entertainment. People love to play with these installations. Furthermore, we decided that all our installations should be ecological. So the necessary electricity is created by the user themselves and we use the ‘cradle-to-cradle’ principle within our production.” Interaction Places can be created not only at the playground but anywhere. In the city, the park, in the neighborhood, on the schoolyard, the mall, restaurant, airport or square; the installations fit everywhere! All Eduplaying products make use of human powered energy. The installations don't need external electricity and don't use batteries. The installations are 100% safe. All Eduplaying installations
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are tested and certified for the public space. Most of the products are accessible for people with special needs, for example wheelchair users or people with hearing disabilities. The Eduplaying installations need very low maintenance. Some installations are even maintenance free! The
RunTime - Push one of the colored buttons. RunTime randomly will name a color. At the moment this color button is pushed RunTime tells you the time it took to push it. Then it shouts the next color. RunTime is not just one game, it's a stimulation to invent your own games. The possibilities are endless! RunTime can be placed all over the playground. This interactive human powered installation is especially developed for kids, teenagers and family play. www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
MusicBall - After you turn the crank, the Music- and StoryBall will play songs or stories. By moving the crank users are generating electricity; no external electricity needed! Each Music- and StoryBall contains many different songs or stories which will randomly play, in this way the interactive installation never becomes boring. The Music- and StoryBall is very strong, resistant to any weather and very vandal proof.
Eduplaying products are highly vandalism resistant. All installations have an option for a build in time clock to disable use at night. No complaints about noise, even in living neighborhoods. Naf Hershler: “Interactive installations have an additional advantage. You can install them in places where you can’t put regular playground installations. That is why we created the concept of ‘Interaction Places’. Our goal is to enable people to move and play anywhere, not only at the playground.” Creating a special atmosphere at any
park or playground An essential element in the development of children is in fact music. Music helps the development of physical, emotional, social and cognitive skills. The MusicBall will make you want to dance and sing, so it’s a cheerful way to stimulate children’s development! Singing and dancing are more than just fun! And think about the StoryBall: by listening to the stories your imagination is activated. Eduplaying sells its product all over the world, through a network of
qualified resellers. Naf Hershler: “We work with resellers all over the world. It doesn’t fit any playground company to sell our interactive products. Companies do not need any special technical knowledge, because our products are simple to install and use. But resellers need a clear vision on playing and playgrounds in the 21th century. Companies who do understand the concept of Interaction Places and interactive installations succeed to enter new markets and win projects from their competitors. We are growing rapidly and expect to expand our business over the coming years.” Another new playground market for Eduplaying is STEM – science - education. The interactive installations can very well be used with science content and games, even letting students create their own content. Naf Hershler: ‘Recently we finished two STEM projects, one project near Houston and one project in Midland, Michigan. As a Dutch company we are proud to supply our American clients with interactive STEM installations, including the Play Planetarium, which is a climber, outdoor classroom and interactive Planetarium in one structure. There aren’t many interactive STEM installations available and also in this field our products are in high demand.”
Best Friends Forest Foundation Builds by Marilyn DeMartini
Creating a Safe Forest
As Melissa Pellicci built a career by helping others achieve their goals and overcome physical barriers, the spiritual and life coach and yoga therapist did not see herself becoming a children’s book writer. Nor did she envision becoming a playground builder, but as her life and work evolved and she shared her skills and philosophies, both the book and playground project ensued. Pellicci discovered in her therapy work, as children, most of us learn to stop believing in the positive nature of the world. This mistrust later induces anxiety, illness, and personal difficulty in teens and adults. She wrote the book as a way to help focus on the wonder of nature and the belief that the universe does smile on us. Pellicci also believed that the story of her narrator, Lourdes, and her walk through the forest, in many ways reflected her own walk through life and she saw the goal of the book expanding. “Lourdes brings transformation to all she meets, she IS me now and represents my inner child—the part that reminds me, ‘all is OK.’ She guides us on our walk through life,” she states. By shar-
ing the story and demonstrating that good happens through friendship and play, Best Friends Forest evolved into a philanthropic endeavor and foundation. The foundation’s goals are to reforest not only the land, but to cultivate human kindness—through play.
Creating Inclusive Playgrounds The concept of building Best Friends Forest Playgrounds became reality through a meeting with the preeminent South Florida playground designer and builder, Leathers & Associates. The second-generation family business has over 45 years experience of creating recognized playgrounds in all 50 U.S. states and in seven countries, including Tatum’s Garden in Salinas, CA, Sugar Sand Park in Boca Raton, FL and even the Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street TV sets—over 3,400 in all. When the two parties met, they in-
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stantly shared the vision of an inclusive playground for young and old alike, to interact in a green space, replete with themes from the Best Friends Forest book, including happy trees, a “scaredy cat,” a cuddly, creepy spider and a bountiful, embracing Mother Earth. As plans brewed for playgrounds to be built internationally with funding from grants, governments and corporations who wish to foster community among children, conversations included sponsorship of a Wi-Fi connected iPad within the playground’s amenities. The team envisions children “FaceTiming” each other as they play together in real time around the world. “All these things are possible with our technology today, but more importantly, through the shared vision of corporate and individual philanthropists who understand the value and power of play,” says Pellicci. Marc Leathers, who has built playgrounds in Jerusalem amid bombing attacks and in post-tsunami India, understands the transformation that happens when children play together. The company is a leader in custom-designed community-built playgrounds and each of its team is a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI). To ensure open participation, Leathers has also incorporated “Buddy Benches” where lone children can sit to await a new play buddy as well as areas that accommodate children and adults in wheelchairs and those with other disabilities including Autism spectrum and hearing problems. “Often, it may be the caretaker, the grandparent or the child who has special needs and www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
Playgrounds to Empower Youth and Cultivate Peace
the playground needs to accommodate them all,” Leathers points out. A teddy bear kind of man who bears an uncanny resemblance to The Rock action hero star—in a kindler, gentler way—Leathers’ eyes twinkle when he tells of kids who take the company’s phone number from the builder plates and call the office giggling as they relate how much they love the playgrounds. That bubbling joy is what the Best Friends Forest Foundation seeks to replicate as it undertakes the challenge to build its visionary playgrounds around the world.
The Power of Play
The team is now working on grants and communication with various South Florida communities where play spaces are needed. Since both Pellicci and Leathers hail from Palm Beach County, the focus is on the area’s underserved children. Leathers & Associates plans to design and build the first playground, creating a template from which others can be built worldwide, with interchangeable features depending on climate, budget and size. While the team plans to work with municipalities, cities and counties to identify corporate sponsors and grants, the upkeep of the facilities will be done through Parks & Recreation departments and the community. www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
Leathers reports that sometimes, communities get involved as volunteers even on the build, showing their commitment to having a dedicated playground in the neighborhood. Though it is early in the process, the Foundation hopes to see groundbreaking within the coming year. Best Friends Forest Foundation also teamed with One Tree Planted, a 501c3 organization that tackles deforestation; $1 from each book sold goes to the non-profit, headquartered in Vermont. Matt Hill of One Tree Planted noted that the Southeast, including South Florida is among areas under examination for reforesting due to the amount of over-development, Hill sees a possibility of partnering with the State of Florida and some of its growers to help target affected areas, focusing on the need for reforesting in response to the rapid growth. “By building these bridges and playgrounds, we see the message of Best Friends Forest taking on a much bigger challenge than I envisioned when writing the book,” says Pellicci, “But it is exciting to grow this team to spread a beautiful message that can immediately make an impact on children, communities and unite us around the world. Yes, it is a big mission, but we have the power of play on our side!”
Best Friends Forest is available hardcover at $19.99. It is sold online at major retailers including Amazon and Barnes and Noble and by direct download at www.bestfriendsforest.com, www.leathersassociates.com, www.onetreeplanted.org
Melissa Pellicci, author of Best Friend Forest
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A Gift to the Community by the Community by Rita Watts THE UNRELENTING fundraising efforts of the citizens of Cheyenne, Wyoming paid off big with a beautiful all-inclusive playground designed to be enjoyed by play enthusiasts of all ages and abilities. The official opening of Cahill Park Friendship Playground on June 10, 2017 culminated years of dreaming, planning, and fundraising by community members that included city leaders, local businesses and organizations, and schoolchildren. The Cheyenne Parks and Recreation Department along with the Mayor’s Council for People with Disabilities had been working for several years to provide an inclusive playground to the citizens of Cheyenne, and in 2011 the ball got rolling with the first seed money obtained from a grant from the Cheyenne Community Public Recreation District. The city contributed $200,000 for the playground that was primarily used for the cost of design and engineering and related upfront costs. The fundraising campaign for the new playground began in 2015 when the City of Cheyenne partnered with local volunteers to form the Friendship Playground Fund. The mission of the Friendship Playground Fund was to privately raise funds to match and enhance grant monies awarded to the City of Cheyenne for the playground project.
The Kiwanis Club with its nonprofit taxexempt status served as the fund’s fiscal sponsor to properly collect donations and transfer them to the city. Building playgrounds has long been a focus of Kiwanis International. A committee of key people who were committed to seeing the project through to the end was vital for success. Teresa Moore, City Parks and Recreation planner, and Monica Puente, volunteer chairwoman of the Friendship Playground Fund, were two of the dedicated people who worked tirelessly for two years to see the playground successfully completed. They were able to keep the vision of providing facilities in Cheyenne that were designed for able-bodied and differently-abled people alike. Cahill Park, located at Dell Range Boulevard and Friendship Circle, was selected as the site for the new playground. The park is centrally located, and it already contained parking lots and restrooms that met the Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility requirements. Before the playground was completed at Cahill Park, the closest inclusive playground was nearly 50 miles away in Fort Collins, Colorado. The fundraising efforts became a public/private partnership. No tax initiative was necessary. The Cheyenne Community Public Recreation District awarded three $140,000 grants to the project. The City of Cheyenne received
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a $65,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Interior from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, designated to purchase playground equipment. The Rotary Club of Cheyenne also secured grant funding from the local club foundation and a matching Rotary District Grant. Local service clubs played an instrumental role in not only project fundraising but in advocacy. The local newspaper, Wyoming Tribune Eagle, promoted the playground with frequent articles updating the progress of the fundraising efforts. Having the support of the local radio stations and newspapers increased the excitement of the project and kept it in the minds of the community. As donors were recognized, matching fund challenges were made, and fundraising events were announced, the media had a big part in promoting the fundraising campaign. A Facebook page for the Friendship Playground Fund dedicated to the project also kept the community informed and involved. Donations from corporate sponsors and private individuals included challenges to match funds raised by the Friendship Playground Fund. Fun runs were held, a GoFundMe page was set up, and for the final push to meet the need, collection jars were put in local businesses and school children raised money in a penny war fundraiser between grade levels. A final $100,000 matchwww.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
ing grant was secured by the Cheyenne Sunrise Lions Club from Lions Club International, and civic groups, churches, veterans’ groups, the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Development Authority, and many others who had not previously contributed rose to the challenge to meet the matching grant amount. DHM Design, a landscape architecture firm hired by the city, called for designs for the play equipment to be submitted. The theme for the new playground was proposed to highlight Cheyenne’s transportation history from covered wagon to rail to highway to aviation. Designs were submitted in March 2016 and the contract was awarded in April 2016 to Recreation Plus Ltd. The equipment was ordered from Little Tikes Commercial in October with several pieces of equipment customdesigned including the airplane, control tower, and covered wagon. A vintage car and trailer were ordered from Landscape Structures. Reiman Corp. was awarded the construction contract. The ground breaking celebration was set for October 26, 2016, with all but $300,000 of the $1.3 million raised. The final funds needed were for additional features to be added to the playground, which included several adult fitness pods, an outdoor classroom with rocks and shade, and a looping crushed-rock pathway furnished with education kiosks that feature Cheyenne’s transportation history. Wanting to have all of the construction of the playground completed at one time, the fundraising efforts by the volunteers during the final months before the actual construction of the playground would begin in January 2017 were unflinching as they made their final push. To keep the construction workers on the job, the City of Cheyenne fronted the necessary money to continue the progress of the build. The final fundraising efforts were able to put the money back into the Parks and Recreation coffers. Monica Puente was quoted as saying: “This playground has just become a community-wide endeavor. It has touched almost the full community, and donations have come in from just such a wide variety of donors. Everyone will be able to look at the facility with pride and joy, knowing this was a gift to the community by the community.” www.playgroundprofessionals.com/magazine
Fundraising Sources: • • • • • • • • • •
Grants Corporate sponsors Local businesses Service organizations Private individuals Matching fund challenges Fun runs GoFundMe School fundraisers Collection jars
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