Steve King thought the patent-approved Evos® play system would be a breakthrough product even before it left the drawing board, but his expectations were confirmed just a few days prior to the grand opening of one of the first Evos installations at Sahuaro Ranch Park in Glendale, Ariz. Word filtered back to King from Roger Boyer, project coordinator for Glendale Parks and Recreation, that the stunningly unique design of Evos was stopping children in their tracks. “Evos appears to occupy a child’s body and mind,” said Boyer. “Even during installation we had children lined up outside the fence looking at Evos, and they were all saying ‘I don’t know what it is, but I can’t wait to play on it!’”
That intrigue is music to King’s ears. He and his team of designers developed Evos as a new generation of play systems that would stimulate children, provide them with greater physical challenges and keep them playing longer and more energetically. King believes that Evos can play a role in getting our nation’s children on the road to building healthier lifestyles. “There are more than 300,000 playgrounds at U.S. elementary schools and parks, and each day millions of children play on them,” says King. “So why shouldn’t we take advantage of this and use these playgrounds to make children healthier? What if we can improve childhood health by simply creating playground designs that will boost their aerobic activity, build their upper body strength and encourage them to grow stronger, happier and healthier? We designed Evos to test this theory, and by all accounts it’s working.”
Play in its Purest, Unscripted Form
Unlike traditional play systems that feature prescribed entry and exit points to channel the flow of play, Evos has a three-dimensional spherical design that offers each child an infinite number of ways to enter, exit and move through the play system. With Evos, play is possible in every direction, and no two play experiences are ever the same. This free-style form of play allows kids to continually challenge themselves, which keeps them playing longer. There is no road map for them to follow, and no limits on how they get there. Evos is play in its purest, unscripted form.
Every Evos play system starts the same with four arches, a Hemisphere Climber® and an O-Zone®. This configuration of sweeping structural arches anchors the play events and opens up many unique designs. Playground designers can link two Evos 4-arch spheres together in linear fashion, or create a triangular layout of three spheres connected by a challenging matrix of horizontal ladders, steel-reinforced climbing cable by Berlinger and Wobble Pods®. Eighteen new play components are available for Evos, and when Evos is placed on an accessible safety surfacing, it is 100-percent ground-level accessible for children of all abilities. Moreover, Evos play systems have no barriers or panels, which are often targets for graffiti, and the “see-through” design increases playground safety by reducing hiding places within the structure.
According to Barb King, past president of Landscape Structures, Evos is also drawing an important age group back to the playground. “Based on our first installations, Evos has tremendous appeal among older children who thrive on unstructured play,” says King. “Evos was designed for 5- to 12-year-olds, but 9- to 14-year-olds find it particularly attractive because it challenges them. As they move through the playground structure, they are continually counterbalancing themselves against gravity, which forces them to use many different muscle groups. In many ways, Evos is the play structure equivalent to a skatepark where there is always another self-directed challenge to explore.”
No Lines Mean a Good Workout
Bill Schwind, deputy director for Glendale Parks and Recreation, agrees with this assessment. “The thing I see when I watch kids play on Evos is that there are no lines to get on and off the play system or to use any of the events,” says Schwind. “There are no children bunching up on platforms or stairs, and no one is standing around. They are all over it. And the children are almost exclusively using their upper body and core muscles to climb and move through the play structure. They’re getting a very good workout when they play. Evos has really opened our eyes to the need for different types of play experiences.”
The Glendale Parks and Recreation Department has also noticed that Evos has made its Sahuaro Ranch Park a play destination, and many families are passing up their neighborhood parks to let their children play on the Evos play system. “One parent had her daughter here for an hour-and-a-half, and when she told her daughter it was time to leave, the daughter said ‘But Mom, I haven’t gotten to play on it all yet.’ I loved it when I heard that,” says Boyer.