The International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) is the playground industry’s leading voice in promoting both playground safety and the benefits of free, outdoor play for everyone. IPEMA’s leadership in playground safety stems from its roots as a non-profit, membership, trade association to represent and promote an open market for manufacturers of playground equipment and surfacing.
IPEMA helps its membership by providing information on key economic and governmental issues affecting the play equipment industry and promoting relationships among related organizations. IPEMA also provides third-party product certification services for public play equipment and surfacing in the United States and Canada, ensuring compliance with ASTM and CSA trade standards (voluntary). IPEMA certified equipment and surfacing is the “go-to” for playground owners and operators to help provide a playground that maximizes safe play, while maintaining challenging, innovative equipment with an appropriate amount of risk for learning.
In addition to its widely-known leadership in playground safety, in recent years, IPEMA has become known as an advocate for increasing free play for all kids.
Recognizing that there was increasing competition for a child’s free time, IPEMA membership companies joined to fund a communication and education campaign that would reinforce the importance of free play for all. The Voice of Play initiative, launched in 2006, promotes the benefits of free play on playgrounds by providing information and resources to encourage the quality and quantity of children’s play and the use of playgrounds. Through resources on the Voice of Play website (www.voiceofplay.com) and a social media outreach effort, the initiative heightens public awareness among key professional and consumer groups, including parents, children, community groups, school administrators, parks and recreation professionals, playground designers, and equipment manufacturers.
The movement has grown, sowing the early seeds for the work of the US Play Coalition – which IPEMA is a proud sponsor – and by developing partnerships and relationships with leading play advocates like President’s Challenge Physical Activity and Fitness Awards Program, play advocate Kevin Carroll, and through its sponsorship of the Encyclopedia of Play Science, led by National Institute for Play.
Throughout the years, IPEMA and the Voice of Play have created several important tools to help parents, teachers, and caregivers prioritize play, including:
- The Play Pledge, a downloadable tool that parents and kids can sign and keep in a visible place in their homes, reminding them of the importance of one hour of free play time per day.
- Our Board of Advisors – populated by four of the most esteemed experts in the play industry today, Dr. Joe Frost, Teri Hendy, Dr. Stuart Brown, and Ken Kutska – these powerful voices have helped amplify the Voice of Play’s message to both consumer and trade audiences for the past several years.
- The Checklist for Access – a tool developed to help the playground industry, as well as owners and operators, to navigate the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards, which became mandatory in March of 2012.
- A guide for “Choosing IPEMA-Certified Playground Surfacing to meet ADA Requirements,” which helps playground owners understand the varying factors that affect making a choice about accessible playground surfacing.