In the Spring of 2008, Kittson Central Community Schools (Hallock, Minn.) was in the process of closing its elementary school and remodeling its high school to create a single k-8 facility. Other than a preschool being operated from that building and a compliant playground designed to meet the needs of the preschool students, the outdoor play and fitness area wasn’t adequate to handle the 230 elementary school students that would soon be playing there.
Superintendent Bruce Jenson had attended an National Playground playground safety seminar in the fall of 2007. After listening to the interactive playground safety presentation and seeing the appropriate ways to build and maintain a playground, he understood the need for safe and accessible surfacing. He called on National Playground to help design a new play and fitness area for the school.
The playground committee consisted of Superintendent Jensen, school board members and district staff. The committee had four criteria for the new play area; that the site be ADA accessible, low maintenance, have separation for different age groups and that the space be an attraction for the community.
The first step was to retrofit the existing playground with low maintenance DuroMat Extended Life® safety tiles, and create an ADA accessible path from the school building to the play area.
A multipurpose play surface area separated the different play areas, keeping younger children from intermingling with older children. To encourage physical activity for older children, a play structure was designed on the far side of the multipurpose area. This structure was designed with play events that would focus on building core body strength as well as encouraging social behavior.
To provide additional competitive play events and a sporting facility that could be used by the entire community, a Universal Sport Court was installed on a regulation size concrete slab. The Sport Court provides multiple play events such as street hockey, soccer and basketball. Additional basketball hoops were added around the perimeter to entertain the maximum number of children during recess periods.
The school district’s decision to make safety and accessibility part of the overall design and to work with National Playground for all aspects of the project – from design through installation – helped produced a beautiful and functional playground with a quick turnaround from decision to installation.
Criteria Set and Met
In the winter of 2008, the College Community School District, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, formed a playground advisory committee to formulate criteria for new pre-K and elementary playgrounds across the growing district. They began playground planning with a third-party assessment of existing play structures to determine what equipment and areas could be retained moving forward and what areas they should remove for compliance and safety purposes.
They determined they were going to build three new areas; a pre-K (ages 2-5) play area for their early childhood program, an open space sport and recreation area and an elementary playground (Ages 5-12) for the new elementary that was being built.
Criteria and Scope
The playground committee consisted of two elementary principals, two students, a special education instructor, a parent of two special needs children and the architectural firm that had designed the school buildings. The final playground criteria determined by the committee included:
NPCG was awarded the contract as the only company that met all of the core criteria and overall scope of the playground project, and although the scope and size of this project was ambitious; In the end, the project was successful because of the district and NPCG’s commitment to work together in all aspects of the design and delivery. Clear expectations were established by the committee and, ultimately, all goals were attained through this partnership. NPCG and College community partnered again to install new, updated elementary schools in the summer of 2009.
Multiple Age Groups, One Playground Partner
In the fall of 2007, the Macon (Mo.) Community Child Development Center, under the direction of Patricia Knowles, was required to provide two outdoor playground areas for toddlers and preschool age children to acquire licensure from the State of Missouri, Section for Child Care Regulation.
Like most childcare providers, Knowles didn’t have the staff or expertise to design a playground that met the safety and accessibility standards required for the age groups of the children in their care. She turned to the experience of National Playground for the planning, design, playground equipment, surfacing, and finally to serve as general contractor to oversee the proper installation of a new toddler play area. Program Managers were on hand from the beginning of this project to the very end to ensure a compliant and accessible installation.
New standards from the Consumer Product Safety Commission regarding the design of outdoor play areas for toddlers (age 6 months to 24 months) require equipment that is designed specifically for the physical development of these young age groups. It is also suggested that loose fill material not be used in areas where children are crawling and putting “everything” into their mouths.
National Playground, as both manufacturer and general contractor, eliminates many of the costs from third parties and is able to meet the shrinking budgets of its customers. By providing factory-direct pricing for professional services, equipment and surfacing, National Playground was able to provide a cost effective, turnkey solution that met all their needs and exceeded all their expectations.
“National Playground planned and installed our playground and play surface at CCDC and patiently met with us numerous times and adjusted the drawings and equipment to meet our needs, time constraints and our budget,” says Knowles. “The National Playground staff and installers were knowledgeable, informative and great to work with. The equipment is age appropriate for children under two and the rubber mats provide a surface that is easy to maintain and safe for young children.”
The center opened on September 2nd, 2008 with an enrollment of over fifty children enjoying the equipment every day since.
“The CCDC Board of Directors would highly recommend NPCG for your playground! “ Knowles added.
PO Box 506
Carlisle, IA 50047