You cannot even begin to design an inclusive playground if you have not dealt with that most basic concept of ensuring that everyone can access your space. The number one barrier to a playground is surfacing. When I was traveling this summer, I saw many instances of non-maintained surfacing that impacted not only the accessibility of the playground, but also the safety.
The label is “playground,” the apparatus is bright and shiny, but those using the well-cushioned space in east Texas are elderly people trying to loosen stiff joints at a park designed just for them. Galveston County, which has a large population of elderly residents, this week opened what is billed as the only playground in Texas for senior citizens.
Sensory gardens are outdoor spaces designed to stimulate the senses and increase awareness of the body. Why they are so important for physically and cognitively disabled kids (and their able bodied peers).
As we discussed in our last column, Laura Richardson’s insightful The Periodic Table of 21st Century Play poster can a powerful tool in the hands of designers and communities when they seek to create truly human and engaging places that support play. As an illustration of how this can work, I will use Laura’s 11 categories, which she refers to as the super powers of play, and create a virtual playground.
“Imagine if you could create a world for your children, one that they would never forget...a magical tree house land filled with action, excitement and squeals of delight, a tree house, fueled by make-believe and the imagination of the young or a tree house inviting journeys to far-off lands, yet still safe to explore...Imagine that your children they could run through the air and soar like an eagle and cross deep ravines and scale mountainous heights. Scramble over unchartered terrain and swing through the trees...and they could do all of this, without ever leaving their own back garden.”
In rural areas where hundreds of students attend school, there’s little chance that the schools will receive power for decades. When the sun goes down nightly around 6 p.m., homework can’t be completed until the following day. There are no overhead lights, no illuminated computer screens, no lamps with cords running from the wall. This is where a Utah nonprofit organization comes in. Ben Markham, founder of Empower Playgrounds, had an idea to see if kids could generate enough power to provide some lighting while playing.
As part of my Midwestern summer road trip, I stopped at Noah’s Playground for Everyone in Evanston, IL. Evanston is the home of Northwestern University and is just north of Chicago. The origins of this playground are similar to many inclusive playgrounds; it was built in memory of a young boy.
Four Square is by far my favorite playground game, but it takes a lot agility to be really elite. Sometimes, a few players can come to dominate the normal Four Square game leaving others in line discouraged and frustrated. After years of practice, here are some of the best, field-tested Four Square modifiers that can help level the playing field so that the line keeps rotating!
The Unleashed guidebook educates professionals, individuals, and communities on how they can advocate for off-leash dog parks. The guidebook provides information on the value and benefits of these spaces, the design considerations associated with dog parks, and planning and implementation strategies. Marketing and programming ideas are highlighted to help communities increase their use and potential revenue sources. Successful off-leash dog park case studies are also presented to help inspire advocates to take action in their community.
Delving into what may be the most intransigent subject in the play industry, I decided to investigate public opinion on what truly makes a great playground. Rather than rely solely on industry or education based opinions, I also took the question to the public. The results were somewhat surprising, although what wasn’t surprising was that the answers varied greatly. There was, however, a very clear common theme: A great playground is all about what you can DO there.