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Tom Sawyer Island at Amelia Earhart Park

Hialeah, FL USA

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Playground Overview

Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department wanted to create a playground that promoted outdoor adventure. They got what they wished for with this custom, nature-inspired PlayBooster® Netplex®. Recycled Wood-Grain Panels and a woodsy color scheme fit right into the landscape. On Netplex, kids ages 5 to 12 enjoy a multi-level, webbed net experience that’s great for climbing, racing and just hanging out. A Log Balance Beam, Mushroom Steppers, realistic climbing rocks, Acorn Seats and bouncers that look like wooden leaves round out this venturesome theme. Pathways surrounding the soft yet level surfacing creates accessibility so that all kids can play together. For little ones ages 2 to 3, the nearby SmartPlay®: Motion has been given a natural color scheme and offers 16 built-in activities for entertainment.


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Playground Details

  • Age Ranges

    • 2 to 5 Years
    • 5 to 12 years
  • Design Standards

  • ASTM
  • Installed

  • February 2015
  • Min Area Required

  • 51' x 51

  • Project Price Range

  • Pricing for custom playground equipment varies. For international and exact pricing, please contact your local playground consultant.

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See Color Inspiration

Playground products shown in video may not be appropriate for every age group. Playsystems shown in video are for demonstration purposes only. Product configurations may vary.

Video features a Tom Sawyer themed playground at the Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah Florida.

[video: two large wood park entrances signs sit with a stone pillar at the entrance to the park. The left sign reads: Amelia Earhart Park. The sign on the right reads: Miami-Dade Parks. Fade out, fade in to overlooking a park pond with surrounding walking path with wood fence barriers, fade out. Fade in to a rooster picking through the grass, fade out. Fade in to looking out at the park pond from the surrounding walking path, fade out. Fade in to a Muscovy duck preening his feathers underneath a picnic table, fade out. Fade into two White Ibis feeding in the shallows of the pond, fade out. Fade in, as a squirrel run down a large rock wall, fade out. Fade into to a panning view of the large oak tree branches intertwined overhead, fade out. Fade in to camera coming into focus on plants leaves, fade out. Fade in to the wood bridge over the park pond. A lizard walks towards the camera on the bridge. Close-up of the lizard as it walks down the bridge.]

[video: panning left to right across the nature-inspired playground area as children play all around. A girl sits on the Corkscrew climber and spins herself down to the ground. Right to left pan of children playing all over the playground structure. Cassandra Weston-Hainsworth a University of Florida/Miami Dade County Extension 4-H Agent speaks to the camera.]

Cassandra: Having this park here and having this addition to the park has been great just overall for the look of the park-

Cassandra voiceover: as well as for the people that are coming in and just to give them something to do in a fun way to interact with their kids and of course I’m all for healthy lifestyles.

[video: a young boy sits on a Saddle seat spinner kicking his feet as he spins around. A group of children climb at the top of a Disc Net rope climber. Camera pulls back for a full view of the play area where children play on the large PlayBooster playground while younger children and their parents play on the Smart Play Motion playground structure. Camera switch back to Cassandra speaking to the camera.]

Cassandra: but all of this is really really getting them gung-ho about being active and taking care of themselves.

[video: a young boy sits on a Saddle seat spinner kicking his feet as he spins around. A group of children climb at the top of a Disc Net rope climber. Camera pulls back for a full view of the play area where children play on the large PlayBooster playground while younger children and their parents play on the Smart Play Motion playground structure.]

[video: a young girl spirals down the Corkscrew climber towards the camera. At the top of a Disc Net climber a boy pops up through the belated port hole to the top climbing tear. Jeramy Smith a University of Florida/Miami Dade County Extension 4-H Agent speaks to the camera.]

Jeramy: So 4H there’s four things that we working on and we can use this park in so many ways to talk about one of our focus.

Jeramy voiceover: Which is mastery, which on the kids can take music as you can see right there. [A child can be heard clanking chimes in the background] And then we have belongingness for kids who work together and be a part of each other. Independence they learn how to you know go from a little boy “Oh mama I’m scared of the swings” to hey, I can swing confidently. And then lastly kindness.  We love it when kids just absolutely share their love and warmth and kindness with one another.

[video: a young boy quickly spins on the Saddle seat spinner. A boy exits the Motion play structure climbing down the belted number counting stepper. Camera briefly switches back to Jeramy as he continues to speak about the playground. A toddler sits on an acorn seat. Camera comes into focus on two girls swing on the swing set as a 4H volunteer pushes one of the girls. A girl climbs up the ropes on the main playground structure. Camera pans across a group of kids as they sit and stand on the ropes of the Disc Net climber for a group photo. Camera comes into focus on a girl’s face as she smiles and spins around on a playground spinner. Camera pans up form a girl’s feet to her face as she wiggles back and forth on a leaf shaped wobble pod.]

[video: camera focuses on the roof top of the Smart Play motion playground structure while children climb and jump on the Disc Net climber of the main play structure. A young girl at the top of the Disc Net climber sits down on the belted platform. A young girl sits at the top of an AdventureScapes rock climber while she looks around the playground. Camera pulls back to show the natural surrounding trees and rocks around the playground area.]

[video: Close-up of the Smart Play Motion Race Car/Roller Track. A boy pushes a line of toy cars down the track. The camera goes in and out of focus as the cars race to the end of the track. Camera peaks over the side of a large rock to children climbing on the Disc Net rope climber. Close-up of a girl’s legs as she hangs from the monkey bars on the playground. A boy climbs up the outside of the playground rope climber. Camera comes into focus on the Ring-a-Bell and marble panel on the Smart Play Motion play structure. A boy walks up to the panel and plays the Bongo drum panel below.]

[video: Close-up of the music not lever as a boy rings the bell on the Ring-a-Bell panel. Close-up of a boy’s fingers as he spins and pushes on the Marble panel. Camera zooms in as a young girl jumps up to the and swings from one of the bars on the playground monkey bars. Side view of the girl as she makes her way across the monkey bars. Camera pans up the Disc Net climber as children climb up all the ropes.]

[video: a young girl smiles at the camera as she swings on the swing set. Top down view of a boy as he quickly spins on the Saddle seat spinner. Camera follows as a toddler walks around the Saddle seat spinner play area. A young girl makes her way towards the camera on the LolliLadder monkey bars, fade out.]

[video: fade in to Jeramy as he leans against the playground shouting and smiling to someone off camera, fade out. Fade in to children and adults as they gather and climb up on the Disc Net climber for a group photo, fade out. Fade in to a slow zoom into a still image of the Disc Net climber rope clamping system, fade out. Fade in to a slow zoom into a still image of a boy smiling while a girl pushes him on a swing, fade out. Fade in to a slow zoom into a still image of a boy playing on the Corkscrew climber, fade out. Fade in to a slow zoom into a still image of a girl smiling at the camera while sitting on a playground acorn seat, fade out. Fade in to a slow zoom out from a still image of a full elevated view of children playing on the Disc Net rope climber, wobble pods, and LolliLadder monkey bars, fade out. Fade in to panning down a group photo on the Disc Net climber, fade out.]

[video: text appears on screen reading: Better playgrounds. Better world. Landscape Structures logo slides up from the bottom of the screen replacing the text.]

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An Adventure in Nature

Creating a Play-in-the-Woods Experience

During the 1970s, the director for what was then the Metro-Dade Park and Recreation Department envisioned Amelia Earhart Park as an ideal location for a farm village where children could go to connect with nature and learn about animals. Nearby the farm village is a lake with a man-made island that the director wanted to turn into a "play-in-the-woods" experience.

Playground products shown in video may not be appropriate for every age group. Playsystems shown in video are for demonstration purposes only. Product configurations may vary.

Video features a Tom Sawyer themed playground at the Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah Florida.

[video: two large wood park entrances signs sit with a stone pillar at the entrance to the park. The left sign reads: Amelia Earhart Park. The sign on the right reads: Miami-Dade Parks. Fade out, fade in to overlooking a park pond with surrounding walking path with wood fence barriers, fade out. Fade in to a rooster picking through the grass, fade out. Fade in to looking out at the park pond from the surrounding walking path, fade out. Fade in to a Muscovy duck preening his feathers underneath a picnic table, fade out. Fade into two White Ibis feeding in the shallows of the pond, fade out. Fade in, as a squirrel run down a large rock wall, fade out. Fade into to a panning view of the large oak tree branches intertwined overhead, fade out. Fade in to camera coming into focus on plants leaves, fade out. Fade in to the wood bridge over the park pond. A lizard walks towards the camera on the bridge. Close-up of the lizard as it walks down the bridge.]

[video: panning left to right across the nature-inspired playground area as children play all around. A girl sits on the Corkscrew climber and spins herself down to the ground. Right to left pan of children playing all over the playground structure. Cassandra Weston-Hainsworth a University of Florida/Miami Dade County Extension 4-H Agent speaks to the camera.]

Cassandra: Having this park here and having this addition to the park has been great just overall for the look of the park-

Cassandra voiceover: as well as for the people that are coming in and just to give them something to do in a fun way to interact with their kids and of course I’m all for healthy lifestyles.

[video: a young boy sits on a Saddle seat spinner kicking his feet as he spins around. A group of children climb at the top of a Disc Net rope climber. Camera pulls back for a full view of the play area where children play on the large PlayBooster playground while younger children and their parents play on the Smart Play Motion playground structure. Camera switch back to Cassandra speaking to the camera.]

Cassandra: but all of this is really really getting them gung-ho about being active and taking care of themselves.

[video: a young boy sits on a Saddle seat spinner kicking his feet as he spins around. A group of children climb at the top of a Disc Net rope climber. Camera pulls back for a full view of the play area where children play on the large PlayBooster playground while younger children and their parents play on the Smart Play Motion playground structure.]

[video: a young girl spirals down the Corkscrew climber towards the camera. At the top of a Disc Net climber a boy pops up through the belated port hole to the top climbing tear. Jeramy Smith a University of Florida/Miami Dade County Extension 4-H Agent speaks to the camera.]

Jeramy: So 4H there’s four things that we working on and we can use this park in so many ways to talk about one of our focus.

Jeramy voiceover: Which is mastery, which on the kids can take music as you can see right there. [A child can be heard clanking chimes in the background] And then we have belongingness for kids who work together and be a part of each other. Independence they learn how to you know go from a little boy “Oh mama I’m scared of the swings” to hey, I can swing confidently. And then lastly kindness.  We love it when kids just absolutely share their love and warmth and kindness with one another.

[video: a young boy quickly spins on the Saddle seat spinner. A boy exits the Motion play structure climbing down the belted number counting stepper. Camera briefly switches back to Jeramy as he continues to speak about the playground. A toddler sits on an acorn seat. Camera comes into focus on two girls swing on the swing set as a 4H volunteer pushes one of the girls. A girl climbs up the ropes on the main playground structure. Camera pans across a group of kids as they sit and stand on the ropes of the Disc Net climber for a group photo. Camera comes into focus on a girl’s face as she smiles and spins around on a playground spinner. Camera pans up form a girl’s feet to her face as she wiggles back and forth on a leaf shaped wobble pod.]

[video: camera focuses on the roof top of the Smart Play motion playground structure while children climb and jump on the Disc Net climber of the main play structure. A young girl at the top of the Disc Net climber sits down on the belted platform. A young girl sits at the top of an AdventureScapes rock climber while she looks around the playground. Camera pulls back to show the natural surrounding trees and rocks around the playground area.]

[video: Close-up of the Smart Play Motion Race Car/Roller Track. A boy pushes a line of toy cars down the track. The camera goes in and out of focus as the cars race to the end of the track. Camera peaks over the side of a large rock to children climbing on the Disc Net rope climber. Close-up of a girl’s legs as she hangs from the monkey bars on the playground. A boy climbs up the outside of the playground rope climber. Camera comes into focus on the Ring-a-Bell and marble panel on the Smart Play Motion play structure. A boy walks up to the panel and plays the Bongo drum panel below.]

[video: Close-up of the music not lever as a boy rings the bell on the Ring-a-Bell panel. Close-up of a boy’s fingers as he spins and pushes on the Marble panel. Camera zooms in as a young girl jumps up to the and swings from one of the bars on the playground monkey bars. Side view of the girl as she makes her way across the monkey bars. Camera pans up the Disc Net climber as children climb up all the ropes.]

[video: a young girl smiles at the camera as she swings on the swing set. Top down view of a boy as he quickly spins on the Saddle seat spinner. Camera follows as a toddler walks around the Saddle seat spinner play area. A young girl makes her way towards the camera on the LolliLadder monkey bars, fade out.]

[video: fade in to Jeramy as he leans against the playground shouting and smiling to someone off camera, fade out. Fade in to children and adults as they gather and climb up on the Disc Net climber for a group photo, fade out. Fade in to a slow zoom into a still image of the Disc Net climber rope clamping system, fade out. Fade in to a slow zoom into a still image of a boy smiling while a girl pushes him on a swing, fade out. Fade in to a slow zoom into a still image of a boy playing on the Corkscrew climber, fade out. Fade in to a slow zoom into a still image of a girl smiling at the camera while sitting on a playground acorn seat, fade out. Fade in to a slow zoom out from a still image of a full elevated view of children playing on the Disc Net rope climber, wobble pods, and LolliLadder monkey bars, fade out. Fade in to panning down a group photo on the Disc Net climber, fade out.]

[video: text appears on screen reading: Better playgrounds. Better world. Landscape Structures logo slides up from the bottom of the screen replacing the text.]

An Island Adventure is Created

The island was designed as Tom Sawyer’s Play Island, which is accessed via a long bridge from Amelia Earhart Park. Visitors are met with native cypress trees along the shoreline, boulders and oak trees further inland. Once the island was sculpted, a few pieces of playground equipment—climbers, swings and playground slides—were added.

After nearly 40 years of existence and a playground renovation in the late 90s, it came time for the County to update the play space with playground equipment that met new safety and accessibility standards. Karen Cheney, landscape architect at Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces department, was assigned the project.

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A Repurposed Playground

“When I got started on this project, I knew that I wanted to keep the theme of nature play,” explained Karen. “I worked closely with Nikki Hall, my Landscape Structures playground designer, and Rep Services, our local playground consultants to create a play space that would complement the surrounding environment, and fit within the space and budget.”

The playground design includes the net-based Netplex® play structure that is linked to a more traditional PlayBooster® “I was blown away by all the raw material that I had to work with.” Karen Cheney Landscape Architect, Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department. The posts of both playground structures are custom printed to look like tree bark, and recycled wood-grain lumber panels add to the nature-inspired play experience. Custom oak leaf balance boards, mushroom steppers and a log balance beam enhance the nature play theme and deliver challenge disguised as fun. Even more, Smart Play®: Motion 2-5 provides age-appropriate adventures for young visitors so that entire families can spend hours exploring and playing on Tom Sawyer’s Island.

In addition to the play environment, Karen worked to upgrade the surrounding land into more usable space. The grade separation was renovated to be a concrete gravity wall that she envisioned as a balance beam for children as well as a resting area for visitors. The floor of the nearby shelter was replaced while the original structure was untouched to keep the living roof of Resurrection Ferns intact. And to ensure that the old-growth oak trees wouldn’t be harmed during the renovation, Karen teamed up with an arborist.

“We had a few serendipitous conditions here—the existing boulders and beautiful trees,” said Karen. “It all came together to gel into a repurposed playground that’s distinctive.”

Tom Sawyer Island at Amelia Earhart Park, Hialeah, Fla.

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A Prescription for Nature Deficit

The new playground design on Tom Sawyer Island at Amelia Earhart Park opened in February 2015 to rave reviews. According to Karen, the playground is well-used and everyone is excited about the completed project. “People come on weekends to spend the day at Amelia Earhart Park, and the Island has become a real prominent feature once again,” she said. “The new playground equipment has given new life to the space.” 

“I’ve been designing playgrounds for a long time,” Karen explained. “Place making is all about recognizing the history of the space, and you build from there. We focused on making this about nature play because we recognize that our kids really do have a nature deficiency. We hope the new playground, along with our existing recreation programming, will instill a love of nature to a new generation.”

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