March 2001

I remember as a kid hav­ing a healthy fear of play­grounds. My intuition told me that they were not safe. If it weren't for the pressure of my peers, I am sure I would have avoided them altogether. Over time, I learned to ignore my intu­ition and overcame my fears. Soon, I mastered the monkey bars, conquered the eagle's nest (a dome of crisscrossing monkey bars) and crushed my fear of heights as I soared like an eagle in the swings.

As it turns out, I should have listened to my fears. All the aforementioned play equipment at Ammon Elementary School, where I recessed, was not only dan­gerous, it was erected over Ammon clay-the cement­ like substance locals here call dirt. Urban legend has it that there is even a house on the outskirts of town built out of brick made solely from this clay.

Yup, I was hanging from my knees, upside down, right over the hardest sub­stance known to man…..and I was cool.

Times have changed, however, intuition is my friend. I have learned to lis­ten to that inner voice that directs me for the better. It's by that intuition that the whole staff here at Harris Publishing, Inc. and I have been convinced that we should publish a magazine for the playground industry.

We’re not going on gut feeling alone. In fact, we wouldn't even be aware of this need hadn't it been for Curtis Stoddard, another Idaho native. Curtis, a long-time playground contractor(one of the first in the nation) had formed an association for contractors,thus fulfilling another need. That association started a newsletter in 1997 called The Play Book. Over the next three years, The Play Book began to take on more and more attributes associated with a magazine. Being the smart guy that he is, Curtis saw an opportunity and couldn't resist. Yet, he also knew he would need a publisher. That's when the talks between the NPCA (National Playground Contractor’s Association) and Harris Publishing, Inc. began...and that's when intuition kicked in.

It is now my pleasure to present you with the first issue of Today's Playground. If you are anyway in charge of purchasing or maintain­ing commercial playground equipment, the surfacing around it, or any of its amenities, then this maga­zine is for you.

Harris Publishing, Inc. has been in the magazine business for 30 years, rich experience is what we are bringing to this magazine and this market. We are excited to get to know each of you and your needs and match those needs up with infor­mative articles. We are also excited to work with play­ground manufacturers of all types and sizes-from tradi­tional playgrounds, to spray grounds, to soft-contained play structures. We intend to cover it all. We also intend to keep you up to date on all the rules and regulations that go along with buying, installing and maintaining a playground­ and we will do so in lay­man's terms.

It's only appro­priate then, that this inaugural issue focuses on the new ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines just released, and that many of the articles herein are focused around accessibility issues for those who are wheelchair bound. Six times a year, every word of every sentence of every article will be 110 percent focused on helping you be a better playground steward. No other publica­tion can promise that. Today when I visit my recess stomping grounds, it's to visit my 7-year-old daughter, who now attends Ammon Elementary. Gone are the towering monkey bars, the eagle's nest and the rickety old swings. Gone too is the exposed Ammon clay. In their place; new, safe, modern equipment that makes me want to play again-to cap­ture that which I have missed. But more than that, which I have an inner peace. My children simply won't have to face the same fears I did as a child. They can look on a play structure with desire, not angst. For that, I am jealous. The transformation that has taken place at my ele­mentary alma mater within this short generation gap is the exact transformation that we would like to see occur everywhere. As we let children be our guides, I am sure it's a goal well within our reach.