Built to last: playground equipment that’s fun, safe and educational | SummitDaily.com

Built to last: playground equipment that’s fun, safe and educational

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Superior Recreational Products' certified designers ensure this commercial playground equipment is truly superior

By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by Superior Recreational Products

Playgrounds might seem like contraptions meant to help kids burn off energy and kill time, but the reality is these intricately designed rigs should also help kids with creativity, coordination, muscle-building and more.

Playground design is serious business, especially for public spaces such as parks, schools, churches, housing communities, retail developments and resorts where children of all ages are using the equipment. That's why Superior Recreational Products employs certified designers to come up with the most imaginative yet safe commercial playground equipment on the market.

These U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission-certified designers work with clients to custom-design playgrounds that meet the needs of its users and location. This also incorporates standards from the Americans with Disabilities Act and the National Program for Playground Safety.

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"We want to design playgrounds for all ages," said Dan Link, the national partner manager at Superior Recreational Products. "It all starts with having a qualified design team on staff."

Safety for all ages

The CPSC regulates playground designs for age appropriateness and safety. Its Handbook for Public Playground Safety says playgrounds "should allow children to develop gradually and test their skills by providing a series of graduated challenges."

"Toddlers, preschool- and school-age children differ dramatically, not only in physical size and ability, but also in their intellectual and social skills," according to the handbook. "Therefore, age-appropriate playground designs should accommodate these differences with regard to the type, scale, and the layout of equipment."

So, how does one design a playground for a public space in which children of all ages will be using it? Link said Superior Recreational Products' sales representatives across the United States work with customers to determine who will be using the equipment. Depending on the ages of users, Superior will design something with components that meet all users' needs.

Age-appropriate designs

In the playground industry, there are designs that take into account the various needs children have during different stages of their development. The ages are broken up into three categories: 6 to 23 months; 2 to 5 years; and 5 to 12 years, according to guidelines by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Society for Testing and Materials. The standards take into account the emotional, social, intellectual and accessibility needs of all children.

Children should find a positive emotional environment at playgrounds. Considering that these playgrounds are often some of the first social experiences for children, things like exploration, social growth, cooperation and interaction should also be part of these safety designs, according to the National Program for Playground Safety.

For 6- to- 23-month-olds who are just learning how to crawl, stand and walk, designs incorporate ways for children to practice coordination, balance and muscle strengthening. Common elements include bucket swings, crawl tunnels and fun accessories such as telescopes, according to Superior.

For 2- to- 5-year-olds, designs include low deck heights and incorporate motor skills in its activity panels, Link said. Playground spaces for children in this age range should include areas with low platforms, crawl spaces, materials that can be grasped, sand areas and short slides, according to the National Program for Playground Safety. These playgrounds should not include things like chain or cable walks, overhead rings, parallel bars and other components considered dangerous for young children.

But for 5- to- 12-year-olds, the designer would use higher deck heights, more upper body play events and more balanced coordination components that help build muscles for these developing children.

To incorporate all the designs that meet the needs for 6-month-olds all the way up to 12-year-olds and older, Superior Recreational Products uses all of this criteria while also aiming to create an outdoor environment that cultivates community and enriches lives, Link said.

The entire play space

With so many guidelines to follow in order to meet the age and safety needs of all children, playgrounds need to include far more than just play structures. A well-designed playground takes into account the entire space for which it occupies.

Superior Recreational Products works with customers to design multiple play structures for each age group. There are also designs that account for varying abilities per age group, and independent playground components that break up the play spaces, too.

"Because we are a one-source manufacturer, we can provide several types of play amenities with our professional installation service," Link said. "We can offer so many different products to complete a play space."

And, depending on a customer's needs, Superior Recreational Products also custom-tailors its designs to fit budgetary and other concerns. One church client, for example, chose recycled materials instead of a steel structure in order to save money without sacrificing durability. Many of the company's projects are "inclusive playgrounds" — built so that children of all abilities can laugh and play together, in one play space.

"We're doing something incredible every day by creating equipment that children play on," Link said. "Whether they're having a bad day at the classroom or at home, a playground is always an area where they can have fun and put a smile on their faces."

 

On the web:

Visit srpplayground.com for more information about Superior Recreational Products’ playgrounds.