Mara Kaplan- Building a community inclusive playground takes a lot of people, knowledge and funds. The idea often starts with a group of dedicated volunteers and their first step is research. They want to know what is already out there, how to raise money, how to select a site, all of that before they even get to how to make it inclusive.
There is a lot of information out there on the internet but, you need to know what to look for and to determine what resources are worth your time. Today, I am going to narrow your search down by sharing with you some of my favorite sites and resources. Bookmark this page, so that you can come back to this list over and over again.
The best tool kit available for how to build a playground comes from KaBOOM!. KaBOOM provides you information on everything from testing soil, to keeping kids busy during a community build to public relations.
The best resource for inclusive playgrounds is the Inclusive Play Design Guide. To be transparent, I was involved in the development of this guide. However, I have not found anything else as comprehensive. It is published by Playworld, a playground manufacturer, but it is completely manufacturer neutral.
The best fundraising site I have found is Korkat Playground. You can download for free a 29 page book of national and state grant ideas. On their blog, they keep you updated on different grant opportunities and they have links to ideas for different fundraisers. They keep their information up-to-date and it is easy to read.
Other playground manufacturers also have lists of grants, including Playworld, Landscape Structures, and PlayCore. All of these require that you sign up for their email list and/or contact a local representative to get the materials.
If you are a school, PTO Today has many good resources to help you plan fundraisers.
The Americans with Disability Act regulations for playgrounds are complicated; however, if you are building a playground with any of major playground manufacturers they will make sure that your equipment will be compliant.
My favorite resource for ADA is an infographic from the International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association called the Checklist for Access.
To get the information directly from the source, visit the United States Access Board.
Surfacing is the biggest decision a group will make when building a playground and it isn’t an easy decision. Here are the best places to go and learn about your options.
The International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association has a document about surfacing that is easy to read and understand.
The National Center for Accessibility did a longitudinal research study on playground surfacing. Their final report is available to download. If you don’t want to read the entire study, the Access Board has used this research to put together, “Seven Things Every Playground Owner Should Know About the Accessibility of Their Playground Surfaces”,
SofSURFACES, a playground surfacing manufacturer, has many good articles about surfacing, just keep in mind that they are trying to sell you a product.
Getting Ideas from Existing Playgrounds
Looking at pictures is the best way to get interesting ideas for playgrounds and for pictures, Pinterest is a great resource.
Accessibleplaygrounds.net, which is my website, has a directory of close to a 1,000 playgrounds from around the world. We have tried to put at least one picture with each playground. You can search for the ones nearest you to go and visit.
Other websites that have directories include, KaBOOM’s Map of Play, Playground Professionals, Calgary Playground Review, NJ Playgrounds, ParkGrades, and Playgrounds for Everyone.