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PlaygroundEquipment Blog
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

20 Efficient Tips to Start a Residential and Community Playground

One of the biggest projects a community organization can have is building and designing a playground. The big question is WHY?

The existence of playground equipments is highly anticipated by most, if not all, kids. Every child has a distinct exciting memory of how it was to play in the nearest neighborhood, school, or even church playground. They looked forward to meeting new friends and playing group games that they don’t get at home.

Residential-Playgrounds

Outdoor play help children develop physically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually.



There Is More To Playgrounds Than Play

“Play fosters belonging and encourages cooperation.” Stuart Brown, M.D. Contemporary American Psychiatrist

Well maintained and efficiently designed playgrounds does not only promote free play but also follows the development of social skills, confidence, and self-esteem. As children’s schedules grow with schoolwork and other related activities, playgrounds, specifically the free play it provides, become important.Outside play is a vital part of growing up. It provides opportunities for children to develop physical strength, balance, coordination, creativity, thinking and self care skills.

Get The Playground Of Your Dreams

Don’t underestimate your capacity to head start a playground project in your community.

You might think that having a residential playground  or buying a commercial playground equipment may be hard and costly but there are ways on how to efficiently make this work. As you read on, you’ll find out more ways to avoid spending a lot in achieving the playground of your dreams, be it in the neighborhood park or in the comfort of your own backyard.

1. Make It Easy On The Pocket
If you’re planning a community playground project, a good common rule is to allot around $1000 per child, meaning that if you expect to accommodate 30 kids, you should have a budget of around $30,000. Consider the size and shape of the area you’ll be using, the kind of safety surfacing, shipping, and installations costs. Don’t forget details such as drainage, utilities and design services.

Starting with one or two high-quality commercial or residential playground equipments is always better than ending up with a full playground but maxed out credit cards. You can always add and improve its features along the way.

2. See A Light In The End Of The Tunnel
Knowing early on what you want to accomplish will make decision making much easier. It will also be easier for the playground equipment company to give you advice. Identifying a certain list of goals or details such as playground hours and availability, specific requirements for accessibility, eco- friendliness, or a theme you’d like to carry through gives you a strong base to start organizing your project.

Friendly note: Themed playgrounds may cost about 50% more than the regular set-up.

3. Make A Timeline
The usual estimate for a playground project is around 6 to 9 months. You need to take the time needed into account to gather information, to study the location, to choose the playground equipment, and to have the designs out among others. Pulling this off efficiently may take time but depending on the size of the project, it could be accomplished faster. Although, it’s still better to take your time and make decisions that will work long term.

4. Get The Location 
Determine a safe and convenient place to put up the playground. You need to have enough space to add at least 6 feet of safety surface around the playground equipment. Don’t build on dense soil, like clay, as it will most probably lead to drainage problems. Assess both natural and man-made features such as wind and traffic patterns that will possibly affect the playground.

5. Get Papers Done
If you don’t own the land, get necessary approvals from the owner. Double check local zoning and building codes. Coordinate with the involved district to uncover policies that might affect the playground.

6. Seek Out Experts
Select a playground equipment company early on the process. As opposed to what some people or groups believe, contacting companies is better done while in the process of planning or before fundraising (if its a community project.) It’s easier to raise money if you have a concrete playground design and a clear budget to present to supporters and future sponsors. Homeowners, on the other hand, will have a better grasp on what to put in their backyard.

7. Set Goals For The Playground

playground-equipment
Set your goals according to the crowd you want to cater.
Be specific on what type of playground equipment you’re looking for. Do you want an equipment designed to provide entertainment to both kids and adults like a 15-feet slide, a popular North American game for two like a Tether Ball game, or perhaps, a Qitele Port Angeles playground system? It is ADA compliant and has a fun design that kids enjoy. Initially, most people notice the roof; kids notice the slides and climber. The ground-level drum and wheel are two of the many elements for the kids to enjoy. Don’t worry on telling companies up-front that you’re saving money. It’s better that you inform them so they can provide a playground design that is easy to install.

8. Creative Fundraising Event
If it’s a community project, making your fundraising event stand out might generate more revenue than expected. A school in Oskaloosa, Iowa collected $10 donations which represents 1 square foot of the playground. They called this ‘Fun by the Square Foot Campaign.’ They also sold limited edition prints made by local artists and parents. Partner with other businesses or ask help from local park departments.  If traditional fundraisers still don’t meet your requirements, you can always try and look for grants or a non-profit organization like Kaboom.org to help jumpstart a playground in your area.

9. Visit Other Playgrounds
Check out other playgrounds and see what makes them interesting to kids. Being familiar with playground equipments in use will aid you to make good choices. Take your kids with you and watch them play, it’ll be easier for you to know what equipment they would enjoy. Because you already know what the other playgrounds have, you get to plan yours to be more creative. Throwing one or two of a well chosen additional playground equipment might just do the trick.


DESIGN ACCORDINGLY

10. Sketch The Property
Start drawing. A rough draft or diagram of what the area looks like allows you to have a template for your ideas. You can easily change items accordingly until you decide what would work best. It might not come out pretty as compared to what a designer or engineer would do but at least you have something to show them during the initial planning.

11. Who’s It For?
Make sure the playground equipments you’ll be having are age appropriate. The different age groups are 6 to 23 months, ages 2 to 5 and 5 to 12. Kids develop differently as to size and ability so be sure to have the appropriate playgrounds for preschoolers and grade-schoolers. Have definite borders and corresponding signages to aid parents and kids in knowing the playground parameters.

12. Young Designers
What may seem fun to you may be a totally different case for kids. That is why referring to kids as experts when planning playground projects will more likely turn out to be successful. Get kids excited by making room for their involvement. Create groups sessions and ask students what they like. You can even hold a design contest. Once you figure out what is fun for them, you can start worrying about accessibility, safety, and more. 

13. Make It Accessible Enough

accessible-funhoops
Disability is a matter of perception.

Keep in mind the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Incorporating ADA compliant events and playground structures when designing and planning future playgrounds are important. The playground must be easy to go 
to, whether from church, school or parking lot. Certain structures should be accessible to children bound in wheelchairs through ground level events, together with ramps and transfer stations.

The whole structure and playground equipments doesn’t necessarily mean it should be wheelchair accessible, but kids with and without disabilities should be able to play and interact in different ways. Put up signs to let the parents and kids know that children with disabilities are welcomed in the play area. Equip sandboxes with a wheel chair ramp for borders.

14. The More, The Merrier
Variety of play options makes the playground much more interesting. You don’t need to completely invest your budget on big playground structures. While most kids enjoy these type of playground equipment, some would opt for sandboxes, drawing boards or more experimental type of games. The more playing options you provide, the bigger chance of development.

Fixed equipments such as slides, swings, monkey rails and hanging bars should all be placed in the active area. It should include open spaces for running, cartwheels and informal ball games. Quiet areas should allow a child or a small group of kids to talk, read, interact with nature or simply observe other groups before joining. Providing areas like this also help children build up their confidence.


DON’T BUILD ALONE

15. Involve The Community
Ask help from others. Reaching out to more parents or the community in general for comments and advice may cut down some of the things to worry about. Maybe one or two of them runs a construction business and can offer help when it comes to equipment. A group of people might want to help out in creating a marketing campaign to boost involvement. 

The PTO President of Oskaloosa Elementary School, Heidi Jannenga headed a campaign for their playground project. She received tremendous amount of help; a web developer provided a big discount on a website that included volunteer sign-up form, news, images and instructions for those who want to donate. Their local media also helped spread the word out. Radio announcers promoted the project on air while the newspaper provided $5,000 worth of ad space plus front page coverage. You’ll never know how much people are willing to give support until you make room for them to partake.


16. Volunteer-Build
Not only are community-built playground projects popular, they can also save a hefty amount of money and create camaraderie among the community. Don’t forget, though, that doing so is a big organizational task and it’s still better to have an expert or at least someone who has experienced plenty of installations before.


KEEP IT SAFE

17. Get The Right Surface
Surfacing is important as it plays a big part in protecting children if they fall. Having proper safety surfacing beneath the playground is a must to avoid fatal injuries. The image above shows one of Playground Equipment’s affordable safety surfacing, the DuraDrain Fused Foam Drainage Tiles. These types of safety surfacing enhance permeability of surfacing arrangements made from wood fiber and add a solid layer of resilient cushioning.

18. Proper Fencing
In Connecticut, a little boy wandered away from a playground that was near a pond. He fell into the pond and drowned. A jury awarded the parents millions since the pond was an “attractive nuisance” near the playground. Supervision was not the problem. Lack of proper fencing was.

True story. Putting up an appropriate fencing will avoid vehicles to crash into the playground and for kids to run the risk of being run over, if ever they wander outside the playground. Although, whether you have an existing fence or not, the playground needs to be checked for compliance to the fencing Standard. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) creates safety standards for many industries including commercial and residential playgrounds, playground surfacing and playground fencing.

19. Better Safe Than Sorry
Choose only International Play Equipment Manufacturer’s Association or IPEMA-certified playground equipment to ensure the safety of the children. Remember, more than 200,000 kids had accidents on playgrounds yearly. Provide age appropriate play areas for preschoolers and kids aged 5 years and above, and a safety surface that matches the height of the play equipment. Build it right, Play it right! Be informed of more ways on how to keep a playground safe. The Consumer Product Safety Commision  also provides a public playground safety checklist to help you assess the safety of your school, church, community or residential playground.


HAVE REGULAR MAINTENANCE

20. Give The Playground Some Love
Since work doesn’t stop once the playground is built, create and follow a regular maintenance routine. Making sure that children will be safe is as important as protecting your investment. To avoid accidents make sure loose fill are raked regularly, areas and equipments should be free of debris, roots and rocks. Inspect loose rails, cracks and other hazards. Contact companies which also offers long term warranties for specific products, like Playground Equipment. 

Big On Play, Low On Price
Choosing the right playground equipment for your home or organization is taxing. You have to consider numerous factors such as budget, location, playground layout, safety and design. Getting your ideal playground without shelling out too much cash is possible. Simply follow the the set of proper playground start up tips mentioned above and you won’t find yourself worrying too much on drainage problems, broken knees, safety certifications, easy-wearing playground equipment, incompetent playground design and layout and money.

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