Playgrounds and outdoor play do so much more than expend a child’s excess energy. Playing on a playground teaches children self-regulation, how to handle stressful situations, and increase self-confidence and self-esteem. Including adventure-filled playground designs that test and challenge children of all ages and abilities increases these benefits.
We are aware of the importance of designing challenge into our playground products as well as overall playground environments. Our team of playground designers, conceptors, sculptors and artists work with clients to create playgrounds that offer exciting and challenging play activities to not only entice children to participate and be active but help them to fully develop a wide array of skills.
Creating adventure-filled play experiences
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. Playground towers like the Alpha® Tower and Alpha Link® Towers, Super Netplex®, PlayOdyssey® Tower or custom options like the Hedra® Towers all offer a variety of ground-level play components, plus deliver multiple climbing opportunities that take kids as high as they’d like as well as slide options along the way. Each of these playground towers help kids gain confidence through repeated and slow exposure to new challenges.
Additionally, the Super Netplex provides an inclusive play experience with an easy way to transfer and an accessible route to the top of the highest tower via its center spiral belting. Kids of all abilities can enjoy the view, hang out with friends and take whooshy rides down one of the playground slides.
The research shows that if children are not provided with challenging play opportunities they may be more prone to problems such as mental health concerns, a lack of independence, and a decrease in learning, perception and judgment skills. Learn more about how to create adventure-filled playground designs using our various playground towers at playlsi.com. And learn more about balancing safety and challenge in playground design by requesting our whitepaper.
Our inclusive playground design philosophy at Landscape Structures is heavily influenced by the tenets of Universal Design. It is a theory of design that strives to make environments more usable, safer and healthier for all. This philosophy has been part of our commitment to inclusion since co-founder, Steve King, was appointed to the Federal Access Board’s Recreation Access Advisory Committee in 1993.
Universal Design sets us up for equity, which is a step above equality. Equality gives everyone the same treatment whereas equity ensures success and opportunity to all. So Universal Design goes beyond providing everyone the access to an even playing field… it delivers a chance to thrive in it.
Universal design simply means that it’s for everyone. Young, old, all levels of ability status, parents with a stroller, individuals that refuse to make two trips carrying the groceries inside… everyone. In theory, it should just be called design.
Equitable Use. The design is useful to people with diverse abilities
This is about as many people as possible being able to use a product in a really similar way. This is stuff like poured-in-place surfacing or turf with seamless transitions. People using mobility devices could roll on it as smoothly as non-users could walk on it. The We-Go-Round®, We-Go-Swing® and Sway Fun® glider are examples of playground components that fit this category.
Flexibility in Use. The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities giving users a choice in how they engage each activity
Flexibility in use offers choice to users, and a great example of this is the We-Go-Round. Individuals in wheelchairs can roll on and stay in their chairs or choose to transfer to the seat. They have and choice and can participate in whatever way they feel most comfortable. Other examples include the elevated sand table at different heights and multiple types of playground swings with unitary surfacing paths. It also includes having seating, sinks, hand dryers and adult-sized changing tables throughout the space, catering to various body heights and types for flexible comfort.
Simple and Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills or current concentration level
If an individual sees a drum, they know what to do with it. If they see the OmniSpin® Spinner, they know where to push it to make it go. It doesn’t cause stress or complications trying to figure it out. There is a desire to provide challenge to kids within a play space, but if the intent of the component is to spin, they should be able to figure that out quickly.
Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities
Symbol communication signs are a great tool to help all users communicate effectively while visiting parks and playgrounds. If there’s information people need to know or be able to communicate, it falls under this category. Lots of words are often used to communicate “no eating,” and can easily be understood with a little circle crossing out food. It’s a more universal method of communication that more people can understand. Additionally, using color contrast and textures provide cues on changes in elevation, alert individuals to busier areas and much more.
Tolerance for Error. The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions
With this design principal, planners discuss boundary fencing as a way to keep kids safe and contained on the playground. Another example is incorporating barriers on a commercial playground structure to reduce the chances of a child falling off it. Additionally, mixed safety surfacing like engineered wood fiber (EWF) combined with rubber should be well-maintained to prevent hazardous drop-offs. When accommodating wheelchairs under play equipment, ensure that the surfacing extends beneath the front wheels to prevent tipping forward.
Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably
Anything that keeps user more comfortable for longer, is considered low physical effort. Commercial shade structures, and gradual, low grade are two big topics to consider. Additionally, consider swing seat choices as well as those for the ZipKrooz®. With the Molded Bucket Seat the kids that fatigue more quickly can still get that zooming sensation, but in a less-demanding reclined position.
Size and Space for Approach and Use: Appropriate size and space are provided for approach, reach, manipulation and use regardless of user’s body size, posture or mobility
This principal gives people the chance to move around comfortably. A standard 36-inch wide sidewalk leaves no room for movement alongside a 26-inch wide wheelchair. Wider paths benefit not only wheelchair users, but also those with service dogs, canes, or someone deaf or hard of hearing. The same theory goes for double-wide ramps and activity panels on the playground. Is there room for someone to push up to and play with it? Or if a wheelchair user is engaging with something, is there enough room for others to get around the chair?
Through Universal Design, we increase access, safety, comfort and social participation within all our play environments. This process creates a strong foundation for inclusive playground design that ultimately results in a place where all can play, learn and grow together. Learn more about our commitment to inclusive play at playlsi.com, or by contacting your local playground consultant.
If you’re looking for ready-to-install splash pad designs, look no further than AquaSmart Splash Pad Packages. HydroLogix® powers these self-contained splash pads, eliminating the need for costly electrical installation and enabling you to install one just about anywhere.
AquaSmart splash pad packages are the right size for smaller pocket parks, childcare facilities and compact urban areas. Add one adjacent to a playground or even alongside a larger splash pad. Kids will love being in control of the action; just a push of the button and the entire splash pad comes to life. The low-flow, low-water option offered by HydroLogix greatly reduces water consumption while still providing plenty of opportunities for splashtastic play.
Over the last two years, we’ve introduced some amazing products like the Smart Play® Tree Tops®, BeachComber® and Billows®. Those playstructures have been hits with kids and caregivers alike—they love each and every piece! That’s led us to create three awesome new climbers—the Vine Climber, Tidal Wave Climber and Mobius® Climber—to include in your PlayBooster® playstructure designs. These new climbers are a great new way to add a modern aesthetic to your more traditional playground designs.
Vine Climber Achieve great heights on the PlayBooster Vine Climber. Kids ages 5 to 12 will climb on the steel frame for sure footing or navigate the cables for more challenge. GripX steps at the six-foot level provide a perch to take in the view, change direction or hang out, while the SwiggleKnots™ Bridge integrated below was added for more wiggly fun.
Tidal Wave Climber Kids ages 5 to 12 will love surfing the wave! The Tidal Wave Climber provides over and under play with a variety of materials for different challenges. The upper belting and cables form a wavy, wiggly bridge, while the lower belting is a great spot to crawl through or hang out and watch the action.
Mobius Climber The well-loved Mobius Climber is now available as a PlayBooster component! This uniquely designed Mobius Climber tests the agility and strength of courageous climbers ages 5 to 12. Twists and turns in the panels challenge kids to adapt their body position as they climb up to the 72″ deck.
Playground design has been evolving to become more inclusive and inviting for children and their caregivers of all abilities. Play is not only fun, but it’s also an essential part of a child’s development and critical for the successful growth of both the brain and the body.
That’s why we’ve drawn on the expertise of child development professionals to help us explore new avenues that allow for all children to fully participate in play together. Our work doesn’t just focus on playstructures and activities that are accessible to children with physical disabilities, but also those who may have sight or hearing impairment, intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities.
For individuals who are non-verbal, speech-challenged or early-learners—or perhaps are non-English speaking—their inability to share ideas, feelings and needs can be frustrating and may keep them from socializing with others at the playground. That’s why we’ve introduced the new Symbol Communication Sign to be placed at the entrance to play areas, which will ensure every child, family member and caregiver is allowed to further their expression, interaction and communication.
With guidance from experts in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and Inclusive Design, we developed the Symbol Communication Sign to include pictures representing nouns/pronouns, verbs, feelings, activities, and playground events as well as letters and numbers. The graphics are universally understandable and easy to use, arranged left-to-right as one would build a sentence and use industry-standard colors representing different types of words. The DigiFuse® graphics are printed on both sides of the Symbol Communication Sign.
We’re excited to announce that the Chisholm Kiwanis Club of Chisholm, Minn., is the winner of the Legacy of Play H2O Contest and will receive an AquaSmart™ Package valued at US$50,000.
Chisholm is a mining town on the Mesabi Range in Northern Minnesota with a population of less than 5,000. While the town is built around the 158-acre Longyear Lake, it is not fit for swimming and several nearby open pit mines are not monitored or safe for swimming. That’s why the Chisholm Kiwanis Club was focused on bringing an option for safe water play to the community.
The club will install the splash pad equipment in Memorial Park, a space that already offers football and softball fields, sand volleyball, bocce ball and pickleball courts, as well as the summer recreation program. The addition of the splash pad will encourage even more community members as well as surrounding communities to visit and enjoy the beautiful town of Chisholm.
“Our club celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2020, and this project has been something we’ve been talking about ever since,” explained Shannon Kishel-Roche, Chisholm Kiwanis Club’s president. “A splash pad was a great solution to our lack of community swimming options, and it’s a great opportunity to commemorate our club’s centennial.”
While this is the first year that Aquatix®, Landscape Structures and Kiwanis International have sponsored the Legacy of Play H2O contest, we have partnered with Kiwanis to sponsor the Legacy of Play Contest focused on playgrounds for eight years.
We’re excited to introduce the Revi™ products, which includes the ReviRock™ Bouncer, ReviWheel™ Spinner and ReviWhirl™ Spinner. Each of the Revi playground equipment products, explained below, were created using a single sculptural form to deliver three different and thrilling play experiences.
The ReviRock Bouncer for ages 2 to 12 position on a large center spring bounces and rocks in all directions.
Designed for ages 5 to 12, the center wheel of the ReviWheel Spinner allows kids to spin themselves around and around.
Deliver an adventure in physics for kids ages 5 to 12 with the the ReviWhirl Spinner by offering spinning through perpetual motion or a push from the outside.
The Revi playground equipment products were designed with inclusion in mind. All three products are designed at transfer height, offer multiple ways to hang on, and provide plenty of room for kids of all abilities to lay down, sit, kneel or stand as they experiment with the motion. Even more, the ReviWheel and ReviWhirl spinners include a proprietary dynamic speed control to keep spinning at a fun yet controllable speed.
Adding freestanding play components is a great way to expand existing play spaces and freshen up the play experience. Placing one or all the Revi products together with other freestanding spinners, the ZipKrooz® or a selection of playground swings creates a play zone filled with thrilling experiences great for kids of all ages and abilities.
We’re excited to share all our 2022 playground innovations with you. They lead the way in encouraging kids to play outdoors, engaging their imaginations and bringing children of all abilities together to play. Check them out below, and comment to tell us your favorite.
Summit™ is the newest addition to the Smart Play® family of adventure-inspiring designs. Kids ages 5 to 12 will search for hidden animal tracks and camping gear as they trek across the laser-cut climbing decks and three-dimensional nets. Plus, the cool color gradation matches kids’ ascents. Bring the mountains to your play area with this condensed-footprint, giant-play-value playstructure that welcomes crowds of all abilities for fun, imaginative play.
Pictures and symbols are an effective way for non-verbal, speech-challenged, and early-learning individuals to communicate with friends and caregivers. Placing a Symbol Communication Sign at the entrance to a play area ensures that everyone can express themselves.
From subtle statements to bold impacts, we have new colors to suit your space! With the addition of four new Permalene® colors and two polyethylene colors, all inspired by nature, we’re continuing to change the world of playground design.
In the U.S., we don’t always grasp that most of us will experience aging and varying abilities. The design of our public spaces often reflects that lack of understanding. Not everyone can easily navigate and use these spaces, including the veterans who serve our country and return home with a disability or change in ability.
However, there are bold minds who do consider the full range of ability in our society—and how we can build environments where everyone thrives. Army veteran Ingrid Kanics is one of these people.
Ingrid uses the World Health Organization’s definition of disability: “the interaction between individuals with a health condition and personal and environmental factors (e.g. negative attitudes, inaccessible transportation and public buildings, and limited social supports).”
In other words, disability is not an individual’s problem—it’s about how they are supported as they engage with the world. Ingrid helps people of all ages and abilities transcend barriers and build healthier lives by creating inclusive indoor and outdoor spaces where everyone can play.
The founder and owner of Kanics Inclusive Design Services, LLC, Ingrid is a powerhouse who combines a wide range of personal experiences and interests: a Master of Occupational Therapy and Master of Interior Architecture; a deep understanding of sensory play; a never-waning sense of wonder and curiosity.
At 29, however, Ingrid was on a different path, joining the Army with plans to train as a physical therapist and help soldiers rehabilitate. Everything changed when she sustained a profound injury to her spinal cord during basic training.
After emergency surgery and 18 months in rehab, Ingrid learned to walk again, but when she shifted her professional focus to occupational therapy, she truly found her stride. She decided to go “bimobile,” using a wheelchair part-time to manage her energy more efficiently. She became more active and started playing sports again.
During this time, Ingrid was working in maintenance at a sensory integration clinic. As she cleaned and organized the clinic, she got to know the children and families in treatment and developed a deep empathy for them. Her conversations and observations helped build a foundation for her future.
Ingrid earned her first master’s and worked with Pittsburgh’s Center for Creative Play before founding her consulting business in 2010. One of her first consultant roles came with Landscape Structures.
On projects with Landscape Structures, Ingrid collaborates throughout the product development process with everyone from engineers to the sales team. She prioritizes several factors. First, are they meeting an unfilled need? Before the team developed the We-Go Swing™, for example, there were extremely limited swing options that allow children and adults of all abilities to join and actively contribute to the play experience.
She also considers inclusivity and how products support different populations. In her occupational therapy role, Ingrid has worked with kids with a variety of health conditions and sensory needs. She thinks about how each kid would benefit from a new product, along with other kids of varying abilities, with a consistent goal of creating inclusive play spaces where kids of all abilities can interact face-to-face.
At Landscape Structures, Ingrid has been involved from the ground up with what she calls the “We” Collection, which includes the We-Go-Swing as well as an inclusive see-saw (the We-Saw™) that is easier to access and offers space in the middle for kids who want less movement. It also includes the We-Go-Round™, a modern take on a merry-go-round, that has room for kids and adults using mobility devices and allows them to help support motion.
All three elements are about cooperation, socialization and working together to have fun. And, all allow parents, grandparents and other adults with disabilities to play with their children. That’s important to Ingrid, who’s always thinking about Wounded Warriors who come home and want to remain vital members of their communities. Her life and experiences give her a firsthand understanding of the desire to stay involved and the vitality we all have to offer—and her work helps people live more fully, one play experience at a time.
Tap into Ingrid’s experiences and expertise! She’s available to present sessions about inclusion, inclusive play space design, multigenerational design and evidence-based playground design to your community or organization. Browse our education offerings, and schedule one today.
We’re excited to announce that the Kiwanis Club of Stuart, Florida, is the winner in the 8th Annual Legacy of Play contest. The club, which will receive $25,000 in playground equipment, plans to install the commercial playground equipment in Kiwanis Park in downtown Stuart, a place that has become a sanctuary for Martin County families. The Kiwanis Club Stuart Playground Project will provide an area for older children, completing the goal of giving children of all ages and abilities a safe and fun place to play.
The club has been working on this destination play space for five years. According to Kali Flood, who submitted her club’s application to the contest, they first built a barrier-free playground to ensure accessibility for the community. And in December, they’re expanding with a Tot Lot and Sensory Sensitive play area for children on the autism spectrum, along with reaching children with visual and auditory impairments.
Plans call for the Kiwanis Club Stuart Playground Project to be installed and ready for children by October 2022. The club, which has 45 members, will work together with the City of Stuart as well as other community groups to bring this destination playground to fruition. Read more about the winning club.
Learn more about our partnership with Kiwanis International at playlsi.com.