Community playgrounds offer a multitude of benefits that go far beyond aesthetics and giving kids something fun to do. They are the heart of a community and an indispensable gathering space that can benefit everyone.
Community playgrounds provide children the opportunity to practice and hone key skills including social, emotional, cognitive and physical. Children are constantly learning through play—making new friends, sharing, taking turns and interacting with other children. This increased interaction with children of all backgrounds and abilities gives kids a more open view of the world and the opportunity to build new relationships.
Playgrounds and Community Health
Additionally, the physical activity that happens during play is a key factor in fighting America’s obesity epidemic. The Surgeon General reported in January 2010 that nearly one in every three children in the United States is overweight or obese. On city playgrounds, children have the space and freedom to engage in heart-healthy activities. They can run around wildly while playing monsters and aliens, or clamber around the commercial playground equipment while pretending to be monkeys at the zoo all while building strength, endurance and increasing their cardiovascular health.
But playgrounds are not just for kids. Municipal playgrounds help entice adults to get outside and be active, too. The HealthBeat® Outdoor Fitness System and FitCore™ Extreme are great options to engage community members over the age of 13. Adult fitness equipment adds to the offerings found at community parks and playgrounds making them a great gathering spot to meet up with friends or make new acquaintances. In fact, the National Association of Home Builders reports that residents who lived in areas close to parks and recreation areas engaged more often in social activities.
Playgrounds as Community Gathering Spaces
A playground with a unique and innovative design can be a destination, attracting families and visitors from all over. Themes and imaginative concepts create a one of a kind experience that is a focal point for the community and an inspiring place to play that kids will want to visit again and again. Whether you start with a standard play solution and add themed elements or work with our designers to create a unique, fully customized playground, designing a destination playground that stands out is easier than you think.
The City of Maple Grove, MN pushed the limits of conventional playground design to create an iconic, destination playground for their rapidly growing community. Their mission was to change the way the community experiences their local park and create a space that served a diverse group of all ages and abilities. The result is truly one of a kind playground that unites futuristic design with the natural topography of the environment. Since opening in 2015, the park has been extremely popular with the residents of Maple Grove, young and old, as well as visitors who are coming from across the city by the busload.
Community playgrounds can also provide an economic impact with increased foot traffic on the way to and from their location. This could translate into more advertising opportunities and more customers for local businesses. There are also job opportunities for city workers and an increase in property value from revitalized areas.
Well-designed playgrounds support the health and development of the whole child and the whole community. To learn more about the benefits of community playgrounds and how your project can improve the quality of life for everyone in the community, download our whitepaper, “Shaped by Play: The Formative Role of Play and Playgrounds.”
Playgrounds Serve the Entire Community
Building a playground that serves the entirecommunity can seem overwhelming but not to worry, we created a step-by-step guide that breaks down the process to make it easy and fun. Every community is different, and we’ll help you design a playground in your city or neighborhood park that is unique to your goals and needs.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends separate play areas for kids ages 6 to 23 months, 2- to 5-year-olds and school-age children ages 5 to 12. Therefore, separate play areas should be designed to accommodate the different dimensions, skills and play styles of the age groups visiting your playground.
Through our playground planning checklist, we will help you:
- Choose the best equipment, including the newest innovations, for your visitors
- Discover the ideal location to maximize access to all community members
- Work with surrounding elements
- Meet safety regulations and guidelines
- Build your community playground on a budget
- Install your playground and keep it maintained.
Creating an Inclusive Community Through Inclusive Playgrounds
For a playground to fully serve the community, it must consider abilities of all levels. Children and families need to play, learn and grow together, side by side, and simple accessibility is not enough.
Our inclusive playground designs promote A Higher Level of Inclusive Play® ultimately increasing access, safety, comfort and social participation. Our design philosophy is influenced by the tenets of Universal Design, a theory of design that strives to make environments more usable, safer and healthier for the widest range of abilities. We use the Seven Principles of Universal Design as a baseline and a framework to build upon.
Seven Principles of Universal Design
- Flexibility in use
- Simple and intuitive use
- Perceptible information
- Tolerance for error
- Low physical effort
- Size and space for approach and use
Community playgrounds should meet a child’s curiosity with age- and developmentally appropriate challenges that encourage them to build comfortably on the skills they already possess. In doing so, children are encouraged to challenge themselves in ways they can control and manage.
We can help you create a well-designed playground environment that feels comfortable, challenging and user friendly for children and families of all ages and abilities. Learn more about our inclusive playground options.
Top 10 Benefits of Community Playgrounds
Countdown of the top benefits gained from a community playground.
- Outside activity helps to boost mood, reduce stress and increase happiness
- Brings people together and creates a sense of belonging
- Multisensory experiences, like the We-saw™, Sensory Play Center® and Roller Table, help to build a child’s brain more quickly
- Reinforce and build social skills when kids play with other children and make new friends
- Opportunity for parents, grandparents or caregivers to engage with children through play
- Increased physical activity helps fight childhood obesity
- Grow kids’ creativity and imagination
- Free activity for families
- Children gain self-confidence and increased self-esteem when they master an activity that was previously challenging
- Playgrounds are fun for children and families
Community Playgrounds Build Important Skills
Cognitive: When kids interact and explore on community playgrounds, they get the opportunity to problem-solve, think critically and plan strategically.
Physical: Climbing, jumping and running leads to increased cardiovascular health and increased upper- and lower-body strength. Municipal playgrounds also help improve balance, agility and hand/eye coordination.
Social: Community playgrounds offer opportunities for kids to collaborate and engage with each other to overcome challenge.
Sensory: Using more than one sense – sight, hearing, touch – helps build a child’s developing brain more quickly.