Your playground looks quiet now, but spring is around the corner! Warm weather means kids will be ready for outdoor activities…but is your equipment ready for them?
Let’s take a look at evaluating your play spaces and find out if it is time to upgrade your playground equipment.
- Your Equipment Is More Than 10 Years Old
While playground equipment longevity will vary, the average lifespan of most equipment is around 10 years.
Your playground’s lifespan will depend on:
- How much it is used
- Severe weather conditions
- Frequent past repairs
- Materials and quality
While a decade of enjoyment doesn’t automatically mean you need upgrades, it is a definite indicator that you should schedule an inspection before the spring crowds return.
- Your Equipment Is Not Inclusive
Older playground equipment frequently lacks the design and functionality of more modern equipment. This means that it may not be as inviting or inclusive as it should be.
With today’s equipment designed to meet ADA regulations and incorporate inclusiveness in nearly every design, you may be missing your chance to connect with a wider group of kids who would love to play!
- You Have Been Nursing Equipment to Keep It Functional
While some repairs will almost certainly be necessary throughout the season, using frequently repaired equipment can be dangerous. It’s one thing to replace or tighten a screw or perform regular maintenance, but if you’ve been performing routine major repairs on a particular piece, it’s a sure sign that the equipment needs to be upgraded.
- Your Surfacing Has Become a Liability
Just like your equipment, your playground surfacing needs to be upgraded and replaced periodically.
Signs that your surfacing needs replacement can include:
- Areas that collect puddles
- Rips, cracks, or tears
- Thinning of surface material under frequently used pieces of equipment
- Obviously degraded materials
- Missing material on a loose-fill surface
Ensuring that your surfacing is intact, safe, and functional for your students is as important as inspecting your equipment. Never overlook your surfacing when evaluating your playground for upgrades.
- You Want to Make Your Playground More Inviting
Your playground may have been established decades ago and have generations of families who loyally use your space year after year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t broaden your guest lists! The name of the game in playground competition is creating the most fun and inviting space in a clean, safe environment.
The best way to broaden your playground’s appeal is upgrading to inclusive, modern designs that embrace a child’s need for interactive play. You may find your own community is more than willing to help fund your playground upgrade to benefit the area and its kids.
Six Playground Trends
The pandemic brought a lot of changes to every aspect of our lives, including how our kids play and socialize on playgrounds. The future promises some changes of its own, from outdoor play equipment design to an increased emphasis on eco-friendly commercial play spaces.
Here are the top playground trends for the new year:
- Side-by-Side Play for All Generations
Intergenerational play is beneficial for both adults and children alike. Children who play with their caregivers form much tighter bonds with them, and it’s been proven that adults who play with children see mental and physical health benefits.
Playground equipment design will focus on finding ways to bring all generations together for shared play experiences.
- Themed Playgrounds Embrace History, Nature, and Culture
The current themes of playgrounds may focus largely on fairytale or whimsical designs, but there is a definite shift in a new direction.
Playgrounds are featuring realistic designs, such as firehouses, train stations, and historical eras. These playgrounds are meant to raise awareness of the historical and cultural significance of the playground’s location and foster curiosity to learn more.
- Adding Fitness Parks to Playgrounds
Why should kids have all the fun? The future of playgrounds will see even more inclusion of fitness areas and outdoor fitness equipment to play spaces across the U.S.
These will encourage adults to focus on their own fitness while their kids play on the adjacent equipment. All will be welcome to these fitness parks whether they are parents, caregivers, or health-conscious neighbors looking to establish their own fitness routines.
- Inclusive Play
A continuing playground trend for will be designing playgrounds that encourage inclusive play. These will include elements that allow children of all abilities and ages to play together, side-by-side, while also incorporating equipment that provides quiet spaces and supports different stages of play, such as onlooker play, associative play, solitary play, and cooperative play.
- Emphasis on Youth Sports and Recreational Activities
While the pandemic brought a decrease in team participation sports, this year is shaping up to place a larger emphasis on recreational activities, clubs, and sports.
It’s been proven that sports play an important role in childhood development, and playground owners and managers should prepare to bring them back to the play environment.
- Eco-Friendly Approach
Environmentally friendly solutions are fast becoming a part of every industry, and playgrounds are no exception. Whether it’s using recycled materials, such as rubber, for playground surfacing or increasing recycling efforts within the play area, playgrounds will turn to an even more targeted eco-friendly approach to the trends shaping our future.
This information is courtesy of Metro Recreation, www.metrorecreation.com. Thanks to 20 years of experience, they can assist schools, parks and recreation departments, landscape architects, builders, child development centers, municipalities, homeowners associations, and churches to build playgrounds that meet their space and budgetary needs.