Well-designed play brings everyone together. It’s why landscape architects and playground designers are constantly creating wildly original and wondrous kid-centric worlds. Like incorporating moments of landscape play that provide multiple options for a child’s next move, a key strategy for adding play value. Or featuring innovative playground designs that help play spaces blend into—or stand out from—their surroundings.
To us, innovative playground designs can only function in service to play. It’s a perspective that continues to influence our entire industry. And it’s why we are recognized for building the best playgrounds in the world. And why we appreciate partnering with landscape architects and communities to keep stretching design, and play. Contact your local Landscape Structures playground consultant to get started on your next playground design, and view all of the unique designs of the 2024 PLAY Book in the video below.
We’re excited to have Jill Moore, inclusive play specialist at Landscape Structures, as our guest blogger today. She’s here to help wrap up Disability Pride Month by discussing the varying language preferences across the disability community.
The language of disability is changing, and the impact of this is so much deeper than it appears. In six years in inclusive play, I’ve carved out a niche in disability advocacy and true inclusion. I’ve grown up with my disability. It’s always been a part of my identity. It defined me and my pursuits, but discussions about it weren’t always positive. I grew up when the Medical Model of disability was mostly used, and people referred to me as someone that needed to be “fixed.” At that time, it was the individual with the disability that was the problem, not the environment or the society we live in. Recently, the disability community has shifted away from this mindset, actively reframing our language to show disability pride.
Avoiding disability to comfort others
I remember the first time I told someone I was disabled, or rather, when someone first told me it wasn’t okay. Around kindergarten age, another student asked me why I was using crutches. I cheerfully explained that I was disabled and used crutches to move around and play with my friends. His mother quickly became flustered and told me, “You shouldn’t call yourself that! You’re not disabled, you’re handi-capable!” My kid-brain didn’t know what to make of this proclamation, but afterwards, I stopped calling myself disabled. I was told being disabled was bad and I needed to be more able. That impacted how I viewed myself into my late 20s. I avoided ‘disabled’ to comfort others, not for myself.
I had never viewed my disability as a bad thing. It is a part of who I am, so why should that be something to shy away from? I remember when I got my first wheelchair. It was so exciting! Finally, I had a tool that would allow me to go faster, keep pace with my friends and not tire so quickly. But so many people in my life—adults and friends—would say things like, “Your wheelchair isn’t permanent is it?” or “You’re still going to try to walk, aren’t you?” As if I needed to find a way to explain away my wheelchair and the needs that came with my disability.
I’d hear the words “adapt and overcome” all the time, and that was how I learned to feel about my disability. I should adapt to the world around me instead of making the world inclusive. Society taught me to hide my disability, comfort others about it, and overcome rather than celebrate it.
This view had even seeped into the media. We didn’t isolate the Medical Model of disability to a few conversations; it was all around us. In ‘Avatar’, the wheelchair-using protagonist sought to erase his disability, influencing our views.
Learning acceptance through inclusive play
Entering the world of inclusive play introduced me to the Social Model of disability. In this space, someone first told me that my abilities weren’t the problem, but the designed environment should accommodate me. Exploring the social model of disability, I realized my abilities and needs weren’t the problem. I began to find myself frustrated with person-first language (i.e. person with a disability). Wasn’t this essentially saying that the disability facet of our identity had to come second? If I had to use language to separate myself from my disability trait, then that trait suggests a negative. It was within the learning space of inclusion that I discovered identity-first language (i.e. disabled person).
I’m proud to say we are pushing to take our words back, and be confident in our disability pride. Within the disability community, you might hear us using identity-first language. We prioritize our identity label as it’s a key part of who we are. You may hear the word “disabled person,” and that’s okay. Some may identify as Blind or Deaf, and neither is negative. You may see media campaigns surrounding the changing language. You may even still hear disabled individuals using person-first language. All of that is okay, too.
The point is that it’s our choice. Able-bodied individuals no longer own the conversation space about what we should be called. It’s nothing about us, without us. The social model means that we don’t have to be fixed or changed. We don’t need to change to fit a preset mold of disability; we aren’t the problem. Differing abilities are all of us. And we get to be proud of that.
We’re excited to share that we’re standing strong in our support of parks and recreation professionals with the launch of the 15th Annual State Speaker Scholarship program. The 2023-2024 scholarship program is about bringing in amazing keynote speakers—experts in topics like play, inclusion, equity, urban parks planning or any professional development—to state parks and recreation associations’ annual or regional conferences.
So, what’s in it for the lucky recipients of the 2023-2024 scholarship? They will receive $3,000 to support the appearance of these remarkable speakers at the conferences. We’ve increased the parks and recreation speaker scholarship amount to ensure that these conferences are filled with insightful discussions and eye-opening presentations.
The application is open! You can apply for a scholarship until May 31, 2024, to support a brilliant speaker at your conference. Head on over to playlsi.com/speaker-scholarship/ to fill out the application today!
Let’s take a moment to reflect on the impact this scholarship program has made over the years. Since 2009, we’ve awarded 350 scholarships totaling over $867,000 for speakers at national conferences.
It’s time to take action. Apply now to bring an inspiring, challenging speaker to your conference. Head over to playlsi.com/speaker-scholarship/ and fill out that application. This is just one more opportunity to get and stay connected through play and recreation.
Commercial playground equipment is an investment that brings joy and play opportunities to children. To ensure its longevity and safety, regular maintenance is crucial. Explore five playground maintenance tips below to help you keep your playgrounds in top shape.
Inspect and Clean Regularly: Perform routine inspections to identify any signs of wear, loose bolts or damage. Clean the equipment regularly to remove dirt, debris and potential hazards. This not only enhances the appearance but also prevents corrosion and extends the lifespan of the equipment.
Address Repairs Promptly: Don’t delay repairs when issues are identified. Attend to loose parts, broken components or damaged surfacing immediately. Timely repairs prevent further damage and minimize potential safety risks. Keep a record of repairs and create a schedule for regular maintenance tasks. Learn how to do this by scheduling a Learning Academy session about Maintaining Safe Play Environments.
Follow Manufacturer Guidelines: Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for playground maintenance tips or instructions specific to your playground equipment. Adhering to these guidelines ensures that you’re using the appropriate cleaning agents, tools and techniques for your equipment. It also helps preserve any warranties that may be in place.
Educate Users and Supervise: Educate playground users including children and caregivers on the proper use and care of the equipment. Encourage safe play practices and discourage behaviors that could lead to damage or injury. Additionally, having vigilant supervision can help identify any misuse or potential hazards quickly.
Playgrounds offer learning and growth opportunities, not just fun and physical activity. Incorporate educational elements into your playground designs to foster cognitive, social and physical development. Explore some effective ways to infuse educational playground designs into your school, childcare or community playgrounds below.
Themed Playground Structures
Consider incorporating educational playground design themes into the design of your playground environment. Whether it’s a nature-inspired structure or a space-themed play area, themed elements can spark children’s imagination and encourage imaginative play. Themed playground components like climbing walls resembling mountains and entire structures offer endless learning possibilities.
Alphabet and Number Panels
Integrate alphabet and number panels into your playground. These play panels, installed on walls or integrated into climbing structures, help children learn letters and numbers as they play. Encourage interactive learning by incorporating sensory elements, such as different textures and braille.
Musical Play Equipment
Including musical elements like our Rhapsody® Outdoor Musical Instruments in your playground can enhance auditory skills and creativity. Install a selection of chimes, metallophones and drums to engage children in musical exploration. These features encourage collaboration, rhythm recognition and the development of fine motor skills.
Science and Nature Zones
Create dedicated spaces where children can explore scientific concepts and nature. Incorporate planters for gardening, sensory paths for tactile experiences and weather stations to teach about climate. By encouraging hands-on learning, you can foster curiosity and a deeper understanding of the natural world.
Sensory Play Stations
Incorporate sensory play elements into your playground design. Sand play like fossil digs, water play areas, and interactive sensory walls stimulate children’s senses and promote cognitive development. Sensory play encourages problem-solving, fine motor skills and social interaction.
Storytelling and Reading Nooks
Designate areas for storytelling and reading within the playground. Install benches, small libraries or even mini amphitheaters where children can gather for storytime. We also love incorporating Talking is Teaching panels from Too Small to Fail into the playground design. Story trails along a walking path also encourage children and caregivers to talk, read and sing with each other. Encouraging literacy in a playful environment fosters a love for reading and language development.
Incorporating educational elements into your community, childcare and school playground designs create an enriching play space for children. Themed playstructures, alphabet panels and outdoor musical instruments are a few examples of how to infuse learning opportunities into the playground. Remember to consider age-appropriate designs and create an inclusive play environment that caters to children of all abilities. The combination of play and education will not only ignite children’s creativity and curiosity, but also provide a foundation for their lifelong love of learning.
At Landscape Structures, we see connections made every day. Everywhere. This is the beauty of play. An extraordinary opportunity for interaction and imagination. Coordination and cooperation. Freedom and fun. Play lets us connect to who we are and see our wonder amplified in the connections we make. That’s why, in everything we do, we celebrate the beauty of play.
We are proud to lead the conversation about the power of play with our videos. Watch the trilogy of Shaped by Play below.
The beauty of play is that it’s not just play at all. It’s magic. An opportunity to make connections. Use our social media toolkit to share your story of how play has helped you make connections throughout your life.
We’re excited to announce the 2022 Rep Organization of the Year is PlayCreation, our consultant covering Washington and Northern Idaho. Landscape Structures presented the award to the PlayCreation team at the company’s annual sales meeting earlier this year
“PlayCreation earned the title of 2022 Rep Organization of the Year because of their outstanding culture, the creativity their team brings to every aspect of the business, and their commitment to delivering the best-in-class service to their customers,” said Pat Faust, president of Landscape Structures. “PlayCreation has been a great partner of Landscape Structures as well as the playground design industry as a whole. We’re proud their team represents our commercial playground equipment, shade sails and splash pad solutions in Washington and Northern Idaho.”
The company is renowned for developing long-term relationships and collaborating with customers to bring their design ideas to life. Additionally, PlayCreation is known for delivering high-quality service throughout the life of the playground, splash pad and commercial shade structure. The team goes the extra mile for their customers and has fun while doing it.
“We couldn’t have done it without our customers,” said John Mullan, president of PlayCreation. “We’re fortunate to be living in these times. Our job continues to get cooler because we’re helping communities throughout the area create fantastic playgrounds.”
Forma™ brings a contemporary vibe to any play environment. With its architectural influences, endless color possibilities and open sightlines, Forma creates the perfect complement to any play setting. The Forma playsystem designs fit into any environment whether you’re looking for a nature-inspired style or something more modern. Kids will love the dynamic, challenging and inclusive play opportunities provided by the sensory-rich mix of materials found in Forma playsystem designs. Experience Forma here.
Forma Playsystem Slides
Forma Alpine® Slide – Ages 5 to 12. An easy-to-traverse belting ramp allows all users to reach the slide and swoop back to the ground along the slide’s banking curve.
Forma SlideWinder2® Slide – Ages 5 to 12. After reaching the Forma SlideWinder2 Slide via the belting ramp, riders can whoosh and curve back to the ground.
Fortress™ Multi-Climber – Ages 5 to 12. With climbing challenges of varying difficulty, the asymmetrical shapes, angles and mix of materials create a unique play experience.
Folio™ Balance Climber – Ages 5 to 12. Deliver three unique experiences for children of all abilities with the slack line, cable-wrapped balance beam and wobbly steps.
Forge™ Climber – Ages 5 to 12. The Forge Climber includes a large cable climber and two unique panels with mirror cutouts for sensory play.
Footprint™ Steppers – Ages 2 to 5, 5 to 12. Add Footprint Steppers to your Forma play area for more climbing activity or to play-functionally link different play events.
Footprint Balance Beam – Ages 2 to 5, 5 to 12. Challenge kids to improve their balance and agility while they traverse the length of the Footprint Balance Beam.
Foxtrot™ Multi-Climber – Ages 2 to 5. Stepping pods, a side-to-side climber, bouncy bridge, and shape sliders deliver active and sensory fun for many kids at once.
Forma Giggle Jiggler® Climber – Ages 2 to 5. Kids will love to balance and shimmy on the Forma Giggle Jiggler. Plus, a floating panel and stepper deliver extra sensory and active play.
Focal™ Sensory Wall – Ages 2 to 5, 5 to 12. Play on both sides deliver opportunities for walk-up or roll-up access so everyone can participate in the fun.
Fox Den™ Hangouts – Ages 2 to 5, 5 to 12. Offer kids an escape from the hustle and bustle of the playground with seats for one or many.
Motion & More Fun
Forma Sol™ Spinner – Ages 5 to 12. Deliver spinning motion kids need for healthy growth and development, plus more sensory fun with the Rain Sound Wheel Panel.
Footprint Wobble Stepper – Ages 5 to 12. The Footprint Wobble Bouncer maintains the aesthetic of Forma, while providing wiggly, bouncy fun for one or more kids.
Forma Swing Frame – ages 2 to 5, 5 to 12. The angular design of the Forma Swing Frame fits a Forma playground design or adds interest to any play setting.
Forma Playsystem Designs
With its architectural influences, endless color possibilities and open sightlines, Forma creates the perfect complement to any play setting. See some of the suggested color palettes below, and go to playlsi.com/forma to explore more.
The beauty of play is that it’s not just play at all. It’s magic. An opportunity to make connections. Share that beauty of play with your community. Contact your local Landscape Structures playground consultant to start on your Forma playground designs today.
Connections. Our lives are built around them. At Landscape Structures, we see it every day. Everywhere. This is the beauty of play. An extraordinary opportunity for interaction and imagination. Coordination and cooperation. Freedom and fun. Play connects us to who we are and see our wonder amplified in the connections we make. That’s why, in everything we do, we celebrate the beauty of play.
You’ll find everything you need to complete your play environment in our 2023 Playground Equipment Catalog – Play Connects Us. From new products to featured designs, individual components and outdoor fitness equipment, we’ll ensure your play space is everything you imagine and more. Browse our digital catalog, then request a copy to find inspiration for your upcoming playground projects.
Make a true impact with a fully integrated shade system for your playstructure, splash pad or any activity area. From small to big shade, decorative to themed shade, we have flexible and stylish options for everywhere people like to gather. Browse the SkyWays® Shade Products virtual catalog, then contact us and start on a new shade project.
Our splashtastic products engage kids’ imaginations, encourage exploration and deliver exhilarating new experiences with water to people of all abilities and on splash pads of all sizes. Discover how Aquatix® water-based activities can help you create a signature destination. Browse our digital catalog, then request a copy and start on your splash pad projects.
4. Delivering adventure with playground towers The best way to create adventure-filled play experiences for kids of all ages and abilities is to look for playground designs that encourage the progression of the play experience.
5. Welcoming and supporting all with Universal Design Our design philosophy at Landscape Structures is heavily influenced by the tenets of Universal Design, a theory of design that strives to make environments more usable, safer and healthier for all.
Thank you for tuning in to Together We Play in 2022. We’re looking forward to an exciting year of play; tell us below what you’d like to see more of in 2023 and we’ll do our best to share it here.