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Church Playgrounds Considerations for Playground Designs


Church playground equipment can play an important part in developing social, emotional and cognitive skills. When playing on playgrounds, children are encouraged to use their imaginations and senses during play, and they learn that obstacles can be overcome. Playgrounds are not just for children to play on while the parents or leaders rest; they are a very important part of learning and can aid any child in different areas of life. They learn about motion by swinging; they can learn about gravity through sliding.

Designing playgrounds is always a unique experience. Each child that plays on the playground will focus on one area of play at a time. Providing the most versatile and functional playground requires a balance of fun, functionality and safety. If you are looking for pre-school playground equipment and aren't sure which activities or different play zones would be appropriate, ask the parents what activities their child enjoys and combine all of your findings to develop the church playground that would suit your facility and the needs of the children. Younger children require different activities and zones than older children. Finding the appropriate playground equipment can make the difference between a playground that gets tons of use and a playground that sits unused.

Playground designs can vary depending on what type of settings, how many children will utilize the equipment and how old the children are. To help find the play set that is best suited for your application, ask yourself the following questions.

1. What is the age range of children? CPSC/ASTM recommends that the play set areas be separated by age range.

2. How many children at one time? Playground designs will vary depending on number of children that will be playing on the set.

3. What special needs or disabilities should be considered? Proposed legislation mandates that portions of all new play sets and playgrounds be accessible to children with disabilities.

4. What is the exact area size and shape? Your equipment will have an actual area size and a protective area size.

5. What type of surfacing will you be using under play sets? What depth? Protective surfacing, the area under and around the play equipment, should be soft enough to cushion a fall. We recommend 9 inches to 12 inches of surfacing for every play set. Never install playground equipment over concrete or asphalt. It may result in serious injury or death from falls.

6. What type of activities would you like to see in your playgrounds? Slides, crawl tubes, activity panels, roofs or climbers?

7. Do you want independent play activities? Swings, seesaws, freestanding slide, activity panels, sand tables or spring riders?

8. Do you need site amenities? Park benches, picnic tables, litter receptacles, or bike racks?

Safety
Whether you are installing new playground equipment or updating existing equipment, ask yourself these 10 important questions to provide your children with the safest playgrounds possible.

1. Are the surfaces under the commercial swing sets safe?
Falling is the No. 1 cause of injuries on playground equipment. A child who falls on a hard surface such as concrete, pavement or even grass can be seriously injured. The material used underneath and around the equipment should be resilient.

2. Is there enough room for play underneath and around the commercial swing sets?
We suggest allowing a minimum use zone of 6 feet around playground equipment. Refer to the ASTM F1487-98 Standard or the Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines for specific use zone requirements.

3. Is there adequate space between the pieces of equipment?
The playground use zone and the swing zone should provide an ample distance from each other to prevent any conflictions.

4. Is the play ground equipment appropriate for the child?
There should be play activities and commercial swing sets designed for children with varying ages and abilities.

5. Does the playground equipment put the child at risk from protruding objects?
Hardware that is protruding from the equipment can cause serious injury.

6. Does the playground equipment present a strangulation risk?
There should be nothing that would catch or snag pieces of clothing, jewelry or cords and strings.

7. Are there any moving parts on the commercial swing sets that could pinch a child?
Any moving parts on the play ground equipment should be checked for any pinch threats.

8. Is there anything on the playground that might cause a child to trip?
Surfaces underneath commercial swing sets should be smooth and level, with no tree stumps or roots.

9. Are the playground and playground equipment well maintained?
All hardware and surfaces should be in good shape. Rust and other signs of deterioration should be addressed immediately.

10. Has the playground equipment been renovated within the past eight years?
Outdated play ground equipment can be extremely dangerous. If the equipment is outdated or in need of serious maintenance, immediate attention should be given to the appropriate areas before allowing children to play on the structure.

Wood or Metal?
When shopping for playground equipment, one of the first considerations will be to choose between metal or wooden swing sets. Other than the obvious differences in appearance, there are several things to consider when choosing the materials used in the construction of the playground swings.

With the proper maintenance, metal swing sets can have a longer life span than a wooden swing set. Wooden playground equipment, however, usually has a more aesthetic appearance in a natural setting. Some neighborhoods would prefer wooden swing sets to metal due to its less obvious appearance. Choosing the right materials involves taking into considerations the appearance, maintenance involved, and what type of setting in which the playground swings will be placed. Placing brightly colored metal play sets in a more natural setting would not carry the same appeal wooden play sets would.

Both metal and wooden play sets carry a warranty pertaining to the materials used. Although both types of material usually carry a warranty, if the playground is poorly maintained, your warranty may have been voided due to neglect of the playground swings.

All require some maintenance; however, deciding on which material to use would depend on location and the availability of maintenance being performed. Metal, although usually considered less maintenance, does require maintenance. Checking playground swings for rust, loose or protruding bolts and faulty materials should be done on a regular basis. Wooden swing sets need checking as well on a regular basis for sealant touch up, damaged pieces, loose or protruding bolts and screws. Always maintaining your playground will ensure a long life of the play set, regardless whether you choose a metal or wooden play set.

Fundraising
Funding for your churchís playground can be crucial to placing a structure the children will love. Many churches have limited budgets for extracurricular activities. This can be very unfortunate for the children of the community, taking away from them the opportunity to get the much needed exercise and fun they will gladly remember for years. There are many great ways to market your dream playground to raise the funds needed by fundraising programs.

The planning of your fundraising campaign should be thought out thoroughly and talked about in your congregation. Setting up different roles for different members of the congregation can prove to be a way of keeping tasks organized and simple. Success comes in numbers, so the more people you can involve to help, the more successful you will be.

First, talk about the amount that needs to be raised and set a goal that is reasonable. Next, make sure you have plenty of time to complete this goal amount. It may be a good idea to set up a scheduled plan, marking the dates that programs will take place and your goal for each.

Here are a few ideas for fundraising programs you can use to gain the funds you need to reach your goal. Make sure you let fund donators know your cause as they are more likely to give more for your playground cause.

Car Wash
Set up a car wash in a prime spot in your community where drivers can give donations.

Spaghetti Dinner
Cooking pounds of spaghetti is relatively cheap and easy and gives people a reason to help the community and frees them of cooking or washing dishes.

Bake Sale
A church bake sale is the oldest fundraising tool in the book, so take advantage.

Community Auction or Yard Sale
The always-popular yard sale usually gets great results, but you could spice it up by auctioning off those same items for a larger profit.

Candy Sales
Buy candy in large quantities from local bulk store or use the help of a candy sales program

Pizza Cards
A pizza card is a discount card with an offer tied to a single merchant, usually a national chain. It often provides a two-for-one offer on every order and is tends to be priced at $10 for a card good for a one-year period.

Recycling Cell Phones and Ink Cartridges
The recycling days have changed from collecting glass soda bottles for a nickel. Companies will pay up to $100 per cell phone and up to $11 per ink cartridge.

Rubber Ducky Race
This isnít your normal ticket-selling raffle. Bring the community together for an entire
event that you can mix several different fundraising ideas into one event. Have your local grocery store and convenient stores sell rubber duckies for $1 for the chance to win a fabulous donated prize. Then, on a specified date, the ducks are taken to a local park with a lake. All of the rubber ducks are emptied into the water at once and the first one to cross the finish line wins. Not only do you make money on each duck, but provide the crowd with the option to purchase food and drinks, t-shirts and anything else you think you can sell to the rubber ducky race fans.

Church playgrounds are learning centers for children and must be approached as such. Playground equipment plays an important role in the development of our children and helps to shape our children into positive, confident young adults.

Source: Planet Playground

Product Roundup

Child Shapers from Childforms
Childforms is able to service your playground needs in many different ways. Their Child Shapers play structures:
* Offer unparalleled play value
* Are easy to install
* Have a limited 10-year warranty
With four different models to choose from, they have a structure within your budget or space requirements. Child Shapers come standard with skid-resistant decks, stainless steel hardware and fasteners and powder-coated steel framework.
www.childforms.com

Spacenet Climbers from Landscape Structures
Spacenet climbers are three-dimensional webs made of durable Corocord cable. With its unique black fleck, Corocord is one of the highest quality cables in the industry.  Spacenet climbers:
* Are available in nine configurations
* Offer interactive play experiences that challenge motor skills
* Are nearly maintenance-free and can be repaired on site
There is a model thatís perfect for every space and budget. The company also offers Spacenet seats to provide safe, fun perches where kids can take in the view from above.
www.playlsi.com

Village Ice Cream Adventure by Progressive Design Playgrounds
Progressive Design Playgroundsí Village Ice Cream Adventure provides fantasy and dramatic play elements for any new or existing playground design. Child development experts agree that playgrounds should be about:
* Active physical play
* Fantasy play
* Dramatic play
By adding these types of elements to a playground, a church can promote healthy cognitive development and peer relationships among children. 
www.pdplay.com

A+ Playgrounds
A+ Playgrounds has provided indoor and outdoor commercial playground equipment to customers throughout the world. The company offers numerous standard structures and accessories, or can custom design a structure to meet a customerís needs. A+ Playgrounds also carries a full line of:
* Shade covers
* Inflatables
* Water/land slides
* All types of ground cover  
www.Aplusplaygrounds.com

The Apex by Park Structures
The Apex by Park Structures was developed for use by ages 2-5 and 5-12.  For little climbers, the Apex Climbing Attachment meets the needs of developing young children.  For older children, the Apex and Lateral Climber provide new challenges. The Apex Lateral Links and Attachments provide endless climbing possibilities that simulate real rock climbing. The structure:
* Provides full body support
* Offers different challenges
* Encourages children to use creativity
www.parkstructures.com

Recreation Dynamics
An Internet-based, playground equipment company, Recreation Dynamics provides customers with items like:
* Swings
* Hard-to-find replacement parts
* Spring things
* Surfacing and border materials
* Sports equipment
* Site furnishings
The customer service staff at Recreation Dynamics help churches make the decisions that are right for their facilities and budgets.
www.recreationdynamics.com

VeggieTales Fun Center 101 by WOW Playgrounds
Children have enjoyed, loved and grown with the VeggieTales characters, and now they can interact, fantasize, play and recreate with the new VeggieTales Fun Center 101 Playstructure.  Designed for kids aged 2-7, it offers lots of play value. The structure:
* Features 20 events to keep childrenís attention
* Brings kids back to the playground day after day
* Reinforces the principles taught in the classroom on the playground
* Promotes individual and group play
Listen to the squeals as children slide, hide, climb and imagine.
www.wowplaygrounds.com

International Play Company
International Play Company designs, manufactures and installs indoor and outdoor play structures for churches. The company understands the significance of designing play structures that address the various stages of a childís development. The IPC1171, jungle-themed structure features:
* Separate toddler area
* ADA access
* 3-D tree climb
* Speed slide
Both indoor and outdoor designs are available with unique styling and design.
www.iplayco.com

Xscape by GameTime
GameTimeís Xscape systems encourage stretching, upper body fitness, competitive spirit, unique movements and fun. Itís a great tool in the fight against childhood obesity.  Xscape features:
* Climbers
* Circuits
* Walls
* Rings
GameTime also offers new, freestanding play events where children spin their way to fun.
www.gametime.com

KrosLOCK by SOFSURFACES
SofTILE KrosLOCK has been specifically designed to meet the stringent requirements of today's safety surfacing consumer. KrosLOCK features:
* Enhanced locking system
* Increased density that also achieves high fall protection ratings
* Strong durability
The unique KrosLOCK joining system combined with a 10-year warranty for durability and fall height performance make the system a good choice for churches.
www.sofsurfaces.com

The Selkirk by RockCraft Designs
Inspired by the quartzite stone of the Selkirk Mountains, RockCraft Designs offers a climbing boulder, sure to be a new playground favorite. The Selkirk features:
* A variety of holds to entice and challenge every level of ability and age group
* Precision-molded design from a hand-sculpted master
* Nine-foot height, with overhangs on three sides
* A series of friendly ledges down the back for easy exit
The meticulously-formed exterior enhances both safety and the authentic climbing experience. 
www.playwalls.com









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