A Response to NPR: Accessible Playgrounds

I hope all of you heard or read NPR articles on accessible playgrounds.  Let Kids Play was pleased to have provided background information to the reporter working on the story.  It is great that NPR has brought attention to the issue of playgrounds for everyone.  After reading the comments on the story, I wanted to address some of the issues that have been raised by the articles.

It does not cost more to follow ADA

It is now the law that any new playground installed in a public space in the United States must be built to ADA standards.  Playgrounds built to these standards cost NO more than a playground built prior to 2012.  At this point in would be impossible to purchase playground equipment from a United States manufacturer without it meeting ADA.  However, there is a difference between a playground that is ADA compliant and one that is truly accessible.  Accessibleplayground.net’s playground directory only lists those playgrounds that exceed ADA.

There is a difference between ADA, Accessible and Inclusive

There is a difference between a playground that is ADA compliant, truly accessible and truly inclusive.  ADA, when it comes to playgrounds, is primarily concerned with people using mobility devises.  When a playground is built to ADA standards it lets a person who is using a wheelchair get in and around the playground.  It enables that person to get on a module structure.  It doesn’t necessarily enable that child to actually use any of the playground equipment.

An accessible playground goes beyond ADA compliance.  A truly accessible playground will enable a person using a wheelchair to use the equipment.  An accessible playground will have better surfacing enabling a person using a wheelchair to maneuver through the playground easier.  It may have playground pieces that children with autism enjoy—things that move and/or make music.  There may be quiet places for children to go and calm down.  There may be pieces like an accessible swing seat and back to see-saws to enable a child with limited body support to enjoy this type of movement.

An inclusive playground goes beyond an accessible one in that it is designed to encourage children of all abilities to play with one another. This playground is one where every child who goes to the playground is challenged at their level.  It is a playground that may have pieces like an accessible glider which enables a person using a wheelchair to experience movement, along with all of their typically developing peers.

It is all about the surfacing

It is the surfacing that can increase the cost of a playground.  Safety regulations require that every playground have a safety surface.  That surface can by loose fill or synthetic.  Wood chips, (called Engineered Wood fiber by the industry), is the least expensive surfacing that provides safety and meets ADA.  Here are the problems with wood chips:

  • If the wood chips get deplenished, it is no longer safe.
  • If the wood chips are not raked on a regular basis, they no longer meet ADA
  • It is difficult, if not impossible, to push a wheelchair or stroller through wood chips
  • Young children and some children with developmental disabilities will pick up the chips and mouth it
  • It gets tracked everywhere including into the nearby buildings (like a school) and drives the maintenance staff crazy.

So there issues beyond accessibility to consider when looking to purchase the more expensive surfacing.  Everyone agrees that synthetic surfaces are easier for a person in a wheelchair to maneuver.  There are basically three types of synthetic surfaces, Pour-in-Place (which is what is described in the NPR articles), tiles and turf.  There are advantages and disadvantages for all.  When a community or school is making a decision about surfacing they should ask tons of questions about ADA compliance, HIC ratings (safety), freezing, and more.  Here are some places to read more:


All Inclusive Playground DO NOT need to be 15,000 sq. ft and $250,000+

I love Leathers and Associate playgrounds like Brooklyn’s Playground which was highlighted on NPR.  They are creative, fun and challenging.  They are big destination playgrounds.  They make a great community asset.  However, they are not appropriate for every community and every park.

You can make any playground more inclusive by laying out the equipment in a more effective way and selecting the equipment with an eye to inclusive.  The Inclusive Play Design Guide gives you many different ways to increase inclusion.

To do it right, you do need to spend the extra money on surfacing; but again, any size playground can have this surfacing.  Adding more ground level activities such as spinners, musical instruments, see-saws makes the playground more exciting for all kids and makes it more usable by children with a disability. Water and sand play can also be added in a small area and are fun for all ages and abilities.

Inclusive Playgrounds DO NOT need to be boring

I have seen plenty of boring accessible playgrounds; playgrounds with a lot of ramps and not a lot of challenge.  But is not what it should be like.  A good inclusive playground has activities that challenge 5-year-olds and 12-year-olds; has activities that are usable by children who use mobility devises and those who do not.  A good inclusive playground is rich in sensory activities, social experiences and physical play.  Here are just a few pictures of exciting inclusive playgrounds.

See more pictures on our Pinterest Page

Accessibleplayground.net will still be offering its detailed directory

Accessibleplayground.net has been offering a directory of inclusive and accessible playgrounds for 5 years.  In fact, a majority of the playgrounds listed on the NPR app were generated by accessibleplayground.net. In our directory there are over 800 entries from 8 different countries.  We continue to add more every day.  (We add over a dozen this weekend).

The difference between our directory and the new NPR directory is that we provide as much detail as we can find about the playground.  If we can determine it, from the resources we can find, we will tell you what else is in the park, whether there is a restroom, what type of equipment is on the playground.  We provide links for you to find more information.

Just like NPR’s app, you can add a playground that you know about to our directory.  The difference is we will review the entry to make sure the information is correct prior to going live on the site.  We hope that you will help us keep the directory as up-to-date as possible by providing us with new playgrounds and additional information about the playgrounds already listed.


Want to learn more?  Visit these sites:

School Year 2013 starts with of new accessible playgrounds

Check out all of the new accessible playgrounds that have opened over the last month or two:

Sunnydale Park in Bloomingdale, IL

 Bruce Ladner Memorial Park in Gulfport, MS

Bergman Elementary School in Manhattan, NY

West Park in Nampa, ID

Hanover School Memorial Park in Hanover Township, OH

BRAX and the Kiwanis Miracle Playground in Wilmington, NC

Sir Wilfrid Laurier Elementary in Vancouver, BC

Sir Wilfrid Laurier Annex in Vancouver, BC



Children of all abilities will be able to play in Port Coquitlam, BC,
civic playgrounds in the future, thanks to the city’s leading-edge policy.
City Council adopted a Corporate Accessible Play Spaces Policy on June 10 with the goal of
making all future play spaces and equipment safe and accessible for people of all abilities – starting
with the playground upgrades at Lions Park later this year.

Port Coquitlam is the first community in the Lower Mainland and one of the first in the province to
adopt a formal policy of this type.

“It’s important that all children in our community have opportunities to play, interact with each other
and enjoy being outdoors, regardless of their ability,” Mayor Greg Moore said. “We wouldn’t build a
school with steps that kids with physical disabilities couldn’t get into. We don’t build communities any
more that way. Yet we have these barriers in places where kids go to play. This was the right thing
to do.”

The need for the policy was identified following an in-house review of the city’s accessible play
spaces and requests from the community. When Parks & Recreation staff contacted other
municipalities to learn about their policies, they found few, if any, had any formal guidelines.
Port Coquitlam’s new policy states that any new or substantially renovated city playgrounds will
meet or exceed the Canadian Standards Association’s standard for accessible play spaces (Annex
H) throughout their lifetime. Annex H provides specifications for playground elements (such as
layout, circulation paths and play components) that are incorporated in the planning process.
While the new policy will not require the retrofitting of existing playgrounds or be imposed on others
who build playgrounds in Port Coquitlam – such as the school district and community groups – the
city encourages the use of the standards in all playgrounds built in the community.

“We’ve already been moving in this direction by adding accessible equipment and surfaces in our
new and renovated playgrounds,” said Cllr. Mike Forrest, chair of the Healthy Committee
Committee. “We wanted to show leadership in this area by formally adopting these standards, not
just complying with them voluntarily. It’s a strong message about how our city values people of all

Being wheelchair accessible is only one aspect of accessible playground design. The planning of
accessible playgrounds must also consider the needs of children with physical, cognitive, seeing
and hearing disabilities, as well as children with complex developmental behavioural conditions,
such as autism.

Accessible playgrounds include barrier-free equipment, increased maneuvering space, accessible
surfacing and paths, and the use of ramps to access elevated play components. While certain
elements can add to the size and cost of the playground, costs can be contained when they are
incorporated in the design stage.

Playgrounds can still contain elements such as slides and climbing structures, but emphasis will be
placed on ensuring children with disabilities are able to enjoy many of the play components. The
goal is for all children to be able to play on or around the accessible playground equipment, while
accommodating the play needs of children with disabilities and caregivers who may themselves
have disabilities.

For more information:

Todd Gross
Manager, Parks & Services
City of Port Coquitlam Parks & Recreation
tel.: 604-927-5428
e-mail: grosst@portcoquitlam.ca

Accessible Playground Project Gets Off the Ground in Kansas

A unique playground project is a step closer to becoming a reality.

Ground was broke Wednesday morning for a new fully accessible playground at Coronado Elementary School. The school was chosen as the location due to Coronado serving the greatest population of kids with severe and multiple disabilities in the county.

The project is being championed by the Salina AMBUCs organization

Playground Project Gets Off the Ground – KSALlink.com.

News Update Construction on Hope Park begins: Accessible playground will open May 11

Star Local News News Update Construction on Hope Park begins: Accessible playground will open May 11.

Hope Park is an accessible playground that’s been years in the making, and today that project is finally starting to take shape physically.

Today the organizing committee of Hope Park is kicking off a two-week, community-driven construction of the playground, which is located in Frisco Commons, 8000 McKinney Road. Volunteers for construction as well as donations are still in need, however.

The park’s organizers have already raised about $665,000 of the $674,000 necessary to pay for the park (Frito-Lay donated $10,000 Wednesday on top of thousands it’s already donated), putting them within striking distance of their funding requirement. All the funding has been raised in about a year and a half.

Hope Park’s grand opening is scheduled for 11 a.m. May 11. For more information about Hope Park or to apply to volunteer during build week, visit www.hopeparkfrisco.org.


Freenotes Amadindas go to Uganda to bring music to children who are blind

Freenotes Harmony Park at PACE Center, Colorado

by Aubrey Volger

Enhancing physical and mental development through the exploration of sound, Freenotes outdoor musical instruments are accessible to kids with physical and developmental handicaps. Only the simplest motor skills are needed to activate pure harmonies and melodies, ensuring musical success for all players.

 Freenotes Harmony Park offers a musical experience for everyone through a specially designed ensemble of percussion instruments.  All instruments play together and any combination of notes are pleasing. Surprisingly delightful, these interactive art sculptures work as educational tools to challenge the imagination by stimulating creativity.  No matter one’s developmental level, Freenotes instruments make it possible for everyone to create beautiful music.


"I'm amazed at how well he responded and engaged with the instruments," says the mother of this boy with autism.

An installation of eight Freenotes instruments was the first public art exhibit to be approved by the “Art in Public Places Committee” for the Parker Arts and Cultural Events Center in Parker, Colorado. Known as the PACE Center, it demonstrates the Town of Parker’s commitment to public art. It was built to increase cultural offerings and arts education, create a community-gathering place, enhance the downtown area, and impact economic development. Freenotes was honored to be a part of the efforts.

“One of the best things about these instruments is that they provide all ages and abilities an opportunity to interact through spontaneous creative expression,” says Jeannene Bragg, Cultural Director at the PACE Center. “All instruments are wheelchair accessible and can even be a tool for music therapy to improve cognitive ability, communication and motor skills.”

Children of Martin Nkoyoy Inclusive School

Freenotes have found their way around the world. In October of 2011, two Harmony Park Amadindas traveled to Uganda for the children at Martin Nkoyoyo Inclusive School in Mukono. The school has 289 children ranging from 5 to 16 years old.  38 of the students are blind, and almost half of them are orphaned and live at the school. In Ugandan society, instruments have a positive impact in reinforcing spiritual, social and cultural heritage.

Carol Puchalski, a Developmental Psychology Consultant at Anchor Center for Blind Children in Denver, Colorado was invited to work with the children in Uganda by the school’s founder, Livingstone Nkoyoyo.  Of all the tools Puchalski could have taken to the school, she chose Freenotes Amadinda.  The Amadindas are native to Ugandan culture and the benefits from playing this traditional music are vast.

“We didn’t have a long enough stay to see what is going to happen with the children and the instruments long term, however while we were there the level of excitement was intense and they were so happy,” Puchalski said.  “The instruments were really familiar to them, and you could tell they were having a lot of fun.”

The benefits of Freenotes Harmony Park go beyond behavioral aspects.  Partaking in gratifying experiences builds confidence and self-esteem. These instruments invite participation from individuals as well as groups to explore and be enriched. Musical expression is accessible to everyone.  Playing music transcends all boundaries of age, ethnicity, gender and physicality helping to build stronger communities.


Freenotes Harmony Park is a sponsor of accessibleplayground.net

Playground industry’s leading safety certification organization develops check list for accessibility

 Playgrounds–Accessing Play

by Tom Norquist, chair of IPEMA’s Marketing committee

As the playground industry’s leading safety certification organization, the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) has been instrumental in advocating for safer community and school playgrounds. With its third-party independent testing program for equipment and surfacing products, IPEMA promotes proper planning, installation and maintenance as critical steps playground owners can take to help ensure a safer place for kids to play.


Alongside promoting safety certification, IPEMA has been a strong supporter of full access for all children and caregivers. IPEMA’s membership companies believe wholly in the benefits and value of play and encourage communities to adopt universal design practices that incorporate inclusive play opportunities for children and caregivers of all ability levels.


The first step—and legal requirement—to incorporating universal design, however, is providing access. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a wide-ranging civil rights law prohibiting, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability. Most public facilities, including public play spaces, must comply with ADA standards to ensure equal access for all.


Recently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) provided updated standards for ADA compliance. Because altering playgrounds can be a significant investment, the new standards took effect as part of a phased-in approach—beginning in September 2010, when playgrounds could choose to comply when building a new playground or altering an existing one. Beginning on March 15, 2012, however, any new construction or alterations to existing public playgrounds must be in compliance with the updated DOJ standards.


To help minimize confusion in the playground industry, IPEMA has developed the “Checklist for Access,” a user-friendly guide to help playground owners become familiar—and ultimately compliant with the standards.


A visual poster format (PDF) of the Checklist is available via the Voice of Play’s Web site or by contacting IPEMA directly at communications@ipema.org.


By creating the Checklist, IPEMA and the Voice of Play hope to help take the industry another step forward in providing play opportunities for all.

IPEMA’s Checklist


1. Public Playgrounds must have an accessible route to the play area preferably 60 inches wide, maximum running slope of 1:20 and maximum cross slope of 1:48. The route to the play area is an accessible route. Minimum width is 36 inches and the maximum slope is 1:12. Any running slope over 1:20 or 5 percent is treated as a ramp with handrails and landings. (See Chapter 4, Accessible Routes, DOJ ADA 2010)


2. Within the play area, the safety surfacing must comply with ASTM F 1292-99 or -04 Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment when located within the use zone for proper impact attenuation. All accessible routes within the play area, clear floor or ground spaces at play components required to be accessible and turning spaces must comply with ASTM 1951-99 Standard Specification for Determination of Accessibility of Surface Systems Under and Around Play-ground Equipment.


3.  Within the play area, the accessible route must be at least 60 inches wide, with a maximum running slope of 1:16, a maximum cross slope of 1:48 and a minimum of 80 inches overhead clearance. For small play areas of less than 1,000 square feet in total size, the accessible route must be at least 44 inches wide, with a maximum running slope of 1:16, a maximum cross slope of 1:48 and a minimum of 80 inches overhead clearance.


4.  Composite play structures that include a transfer system as a means of access must meet the following criteria:


  • Transfer platform height must be between 11 and 18 inches with clear minimum width of 24 inches and depth of 14 inches
  • Transfer steps are maximum of 8 inches high and include handholds to aid movement.
  • Minimum 30-by-48-inch transfer space must be provided adjacent to the transfer platform. The 48-inch long minimum dimension of the transfer space shall be centered on and parallel to the 24-inch long minimum side of the transfer platform. The side of the transfer platform serving the transfer space shall be unobstructed.




5.  Composite play structures that include ramps that connect elevated play components as a means of access must meet the following criteria:


  • Elevated ramps must be at least 36 inches wide, maximum running slope of 1:12 and maximum length of 144 inches (12 feet) before providing a landing.
  • Elevated ramps must include handrails on both sides meeting hand-gripping criteria and with a height between 20 and 28 inches. Elevated ramps with handrails, barriers beyond the ramp edge and barriers not extending within 1 inch of the ramp surface must have edge curbing at least 2 inches high for the entire ramp length. No handrail extensions are required.
  • When elevated ramps change in direction, a 60-by-60-inch minimum level landing must be provided at both the top and the bottom of each run.




6.  Elevated ramps and accessible platforms attached at ramp levels shall have no openings on surface greater than ½ inch and vertical change in level less than ¼ inch or up to ½ inch with a 2:1 beveled edge.


7.  Wheelchair-accessible platforms require guardrails or barriers. Openings for access/egress play components shall be narrowed to 15 inches or less.


8.  Advisory Reach ranges for accessible manipulative and interactive sensory and communicative components must have reach range heights between 16 and 44 inches for 9-to-12-year-old, 18 to 40 inches for 5-to-8-year-old, and 20 and 36 inches for 3-to-4-year-old user age groups.


9.  Ground-level upper-body equipment intended for use by a person using a mobility device must be less than 54 inches above protective surfacing.


10.  Ground-level play tables and components for users over 5 years old must have a minimum vertical knee clearance of at least 24 inches high, a minimum depth of at least 17 inches deep and a minimum width of at least 30 inches. The maximum top of playing surface shall not exceed 31 inches.


11.  Composite play structures must have elevated accessible routes by ramp and/or transfer systems to connect at least 50 percent of the elevated play components. Large composite play structures with more than 20 elevated play components must have at least 25 percent of the elevated play components connected by elevated ramps.


12.  Play areas must have the minimum number of accessible play components and types on the accessible routes per the following criteria: Remember it is one of each type at ground level and 50 percent elevated that must be accessible. The trigger to use the table is for Additional Number and Types. Where elevated play components are provided, ground-level play components shall be provided in accordance with Table and shall comply with 1008.4. EXCEPTION: If at least 50 percent of the elevated play components are connected by a ramp and at least three of the elevated play components connected by the ramp are different types of play components, the play area shall not be required to comply with

Inclusive Play Design Guide: Now Available

A new go-to resource for developing inclusive playgrounds has just been published: The Inclusive Play Design Guide.  Here are the basic facts about this wonderful new publication:

The Design Guide is not a rulebook

The most important fact about the Design Guide is that it is truly a guide.  As a decision maker or designer of a playground, you may choose to emphasize one strategy over another, or create a strategy of your own to achieve an intent not mentioned within The Guide Make these decisions consciously, with an understanding of the tradeoffs and consequences.

How can I get a copy of the Inclusive Play Design Guide?

You can download your free copy here.

After reading it, if I have ideas, feedback or other comments, what do I do?

The Work Group strongly encourages you to provide your thoughts after reading the Guide.  A survey will be collecting all this date.  It will also be collecting information on which concepts people feel are the most important when designing an inclusive playground.

What is the purpose of the Design Guide?

To offer inspiration and guidance to support the design of an inclusive, universally designed outdoor playground.

Who is the Design Guide for?

People who care about inclusion and aim to create a play space in their community for people of all ages and abilities.

How was the Design Guide developed?

Work Group learning from Preston's Hope in Ohio

The Design Guide was developed through a consensus-based process and led by a work group of industry professionals. This diverse group of individuals represents a cross-section of child development, inclusive advocacy, landscape architecture and playground industry expertise. In addition, the majority of the work group are parents to a child with a disability.

After the work group finished its rough draft, another group of individuals, again representing a cross-section of development, inclusive advocacy, landscape architecture, parents, and playground expertise, reviewed the Guide.  Their comments and feedback were edited into the Guide.

The group pledged to move the industry beyond basic compliance with the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and work to achieve more enriching play experiences for all people, regardless of age or ability. The goal of the committee is to serve as a third-party source for collecting and communicating objective data to help communities develop 21st century inclusive playgrounds.

As a disclosure, Mara Kaplan of Let Kids Play was a member of the work group and the editor of the Inclusive Play Design Guide.

Why is this Design Guide necessary?

Regardless of the best intentions, interesting products placed together on the playground do not make it inclusive. Designers must be mindful of the impact individual decisions make to the entire experience. From the directional signage to the overall playspace layout. From the location of sound-making events to the location of benches, accessible routes and perimeter fencing, all these have impact on certain users.

This Design Guide attempts to inspire and educate people on their journey to inclusive play with the hope that individual decisions are made with an understanding of the effect of that decision for everyone.

What is in the Design Guide?

Guidelines and Laws–The assumptions made about the supporting laws, guidelines and context for the Design Guide.

Planning & Preparation-Planning is the key to successfully executing a universal playground. Involving the right people early in the planning process with the knowledge, skills, empathies and connections needed to succeed may be the most important step you take on the project.

Layout–Playground designers make the difference between a poor playground and an excellent one. Layout is the biggest single factor between only typically-developing children playing and everyone playing, since the design of the equipment is irrelevant if it is poorly sited or doesn’t create an opportunity for children of different abilities to play alongside one another.

Access–This section deals with the design of the play space and surrounding environment as it relates to the users and caregivers getting into, around, and out of the play area.

Selecting Equipment–These intents help with conscious and well thought- out decisions when selecting equipment. The planning committee should have in-depth conversations to address the issues raised in this section, prior to purchasing any equipment. Equipment can mean manufactured playground equipment or natural elements that are usedas play activities.

Play Richness-Every child who comes to the playground should be able to play on developmentally and age appropriate equipment. Friends should be able to climb, swing or spin next to one another regardless of their abilities. The Design Guide working group recognizes that, depending on the age, size or ability of a child, there will be pieces of equipment that they may not choose to, or be able to play on. However, when a few principles are followed the playground will be fun for all children.

Every disability is a spectrum. Every child has different abilities. Some children will require a lot of support while playing; others will require significantly less; and others will be able to play independently. To fulfill the needs of everyone on the playground choose multiple pieces of equipment within each category of play events with different challenge levels.

Support features--Grouping a series of good-looking play events together will not ensure a good play experience. Similarly, siting the play space along a road in the community that has some open land is unlikely to be inclusive without further thought about the needs of all people who will be visiting. The support systems can ensure that everyone is welcome. The parent with the service animal will need different amenities than the child who uses a wheelchair. Looking at the play area from the point of view of user and their caregiver will increase the chance of making them feel welcome in the play space.

Glossary–An explanation of terms used in the Guide.

Resources--Websites, articles, and books to find additional information

Surfacing Appendix-An exploration of the advantages and disadvantages of different types of surfacing.

Who sponsored the writing of the Inclusive Play Design Guide?

Playworld Systems, a leading manufacturer of imaginative playground and fitness equipment, conceived of the concept of the Guide, facilitation the development process, and funded the entire project.
Yet, the Inclusive Play Design Guide, was not created as a sales tool for the company, but as a gift to the community.  The Guide is manufacturer neutral so that it can be used as an independent third-party resource by anyone looking to create an inclusive playground.  Besides the front cover, you will not find a single picture of a piece of Playworld Systems equipment.
You can find out much more about Playworld Systems products and their commitment to inclusive play throughout accessibleplayground.net.  They are a sponsor of accessibleplayground.net.

Steve King Honored for Commitment to Inclusive Playground Design

Delano, Minn. (PRWEB) May 04, 2012

Steve King was honored with the Visionary Leadership Award from Shane’s Inspiration, a nonprofit organization specializing in the design and educational programming of inclusive playgrounds, at their annual gala on April 21. King, the cofounder of Landscape Structures Inc., the Delano, Minn.-based commercial playground equipment manufacturer, was recognized for his commitment to providing inclusive playground equipment for children of all abilities as well as his philanthropic support of Shane’s Inspiration’s abilities awareness programs.

King, an American Society of Landscape Architecture Fellow, created a new type of play environment

as his final project at Iowa State. After observing children at nearby playgrounds and the child development department on campus, he put together a concept that combined traditional playground equipment such as slides and climbers into an endless stream of connected activities, which he later termed “continuous play.”


Since that concept was introduced, King has continued to build upon it. He has committed his entire life to creating play spaces for children of all abilities. King was chairman of a task group of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) that worked with the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to update the ASTM F1487 Specification, a voluntary safety and accessibility standard for public playground equipment designed for children ages 2 to 12. His task group had the added responsibility of developing playground accessibility standards to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


In addition to his commitment to providing truly inclusive playground equipment, King was honored for his continued support of Shane’s Inspiration. King and his wife and cofounder of Landscape Structures, Barbara (1946-2008), met Catherine Curry-Williams and Tiffany Harris, cofounders of Shane’s Inspiration, more than 10 years ago. Since then, Shane’s Inspiration and Landscape

Structures have partnered to design and install more than 30 inclusive playgrounds throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico. In 2011, the companies sponsored the Together We Play™ essay contest, which awarded six communities throughout North America with inclusive playground equipment from Landscape Structures and project development, design and educational programming services from Shane’s Inspiration.


Since 1971, Landscape Structures Inc. has been the leading commercial play equipment manufacturer in the world. The employee-owned company is committed to making the world a better place with active children thriving in leading communities year after year, generation after generation. Landscape Structures encourages outdoor play that develops healthy kids and a sustainable world by creating innovative products that are environmentally responsible. As a leader in inclusive play, Landscape Structures is committed to designing truly inclusive playgrounds that provide places where children of all abilities can play, learn and grow together. The company’s mission from day one has been to enhance children’s lives by fostering and creating inspiring play experiences while honoring the environment.

Family-owned Playworld Systems’s PVC-Free Pledge Helps Secure Coveted Environmental Certification

LEWISBURG, PA (September 7, 2011) – Playworld Systems, a leading manufacturer of imaginative playground and fitness equipment, today announced all of its product lines from its 2010 catalog have been Cradle to Cradle Certified(CM) Basic.  Cradle to Cradle Certified(CM) is a rigorous and comprehensive environmental certification system administered by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute(TM) that evaluates products and materials for their impact on human health and environmental health and design for future life cycles. The certification does not include the electronic components sealed inside certain Playworld Systems products.

Playworld Systems is the only playground manufacturer to complete the rigorous process and earn this notable sustainability certification.  Playworld Systems worked closely with McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) to collect data throughout the supply chain, assess all materials for impact to human and environmental health, and evaluate manufacturing processes for use of renewable energy, water stewardship, and social responsibility. MBDC is a global consultancy and certification firm that helps clients create a positive footprint on the planet by implementing the Cradle to Cradle® design framework.

“This independent certification proves that Playworld Systems is lessening its impact on the planet beyond industry standards and laws,” said Matt Miller, chief executive officer of Playworld Systems. “Sustainability can be a relative term – and in general we believe there’s too much posturing in green positioning, and not enough substance.  We’re honored to receive this recognition because it confirms that Playworld Systems is doing more than simply removing potentially harmful materials.  We aim to have our entire product line reused as consumable materials in the future.  This is about doing more good for our environment, and not just less bad.  It is a further extension of our commitment to make the most conscientious choices in our manufacturing process, which will impact future generations.”

The Cradle to Cradle Certified(CM) program provides guidelines to help businesses like Playworld Systems evaluate all materials in its supply chain and focus on using safe materials that can be disassembled, recycled and repurposed. The process is helping Playworld Systems ensure that potentially toxic materials in its products, including polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, lead and heavy metals are identified and removed with an eye toward repurposing the materials in future consumer products once the useful lifecycle is complete.

The certification is recognized by environmental experts worldwide for its innovation in sustainability.  In the US for example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) includes Cradle to Cradle Certified(CM) products in its Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) database for federal agency procurement. In addition, these certified products are eligible for points in the USGBC’s LEED certification for green buildings.

Other countries are also embracing the Cradle to Cradle philosophy. One example is the C2C Network (C2CN), a multi-national project that brings together countries within the European Union to share best practices in implementing Cradle to Cradle principles. C2CN is funded in part by the INTERREG IVC (Innovation & Environment Regions of Europe Sharing Solutions), which seeks to improve the effectiveness of policies and build on the exchange of experiences among regional partners who are responsible for the development of local policies.

“The certification process is a comprehensive approach to evaluating the design of products, their chemical make-up down to the parts per million range, and the practices employed during manufacturing. We are proud to see Playworld Systems joining the ranks of Aveda, Armstrong and Method Home products. Playworld Systems is setting a positive example for other companies with respect to social and environmental responsibility,” said William McDonough, named ‘hero of the planet’ by TIME magazine and founding principal of MBDC.

“In 2008, we took a leadership position in our industry by pledging to remove PVC from our products because we believed it was the responsible thing to do,” added Miller. “Our playground and fitness equipment is the focal point for many communities around the world.  We have tremendous respect for the natural environments with which our products co-exist.  We feel responsible for making sure our equipment enhances a community and doesn’t compromise it.”

For more information, visit www.c2ccertified.org. Cradle to Cradle Certified(CM) is a certification mark licensed by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.  Cradle to Cradle is a registered trademark of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry.