The Importance of a Church Playground
Your church is the pride of your community, a friendly place where families come to worship, learn, engage with each other, and enjoy a respite from their hectic lives. Adding a playground to your other amenities can enhance your image in the community, attract new families to your congregation, and offer additional benefits for the parents and kids who use it.
If you’re considering building a playground or upgrading your current equipment, here are five good reasons to move forward.
1. A church playground is inviting.
If your playground can be seen from the street, even partially, it sends a positive message about your faith community. It tells everyone who drives by that your church is family friendly, that you care about children, and that fun and recreation are an important part of church life for your congregation.
2. A church playground promotes health benefits.
Studies have shown that kids who enjoy active outdoor playtime do better in school, have improved attention spans, and experience less stress. By offering children a bright, engaging, safe place to enjoy fresh air and sunshine while experiencing the joy of movement, you’re promoting a healthier lifestyle for your littlest members.
3. A church playground gets kids away from screens.
Even small kids are suffering from the same “screen addiction” as their parents, spending hour after hour staring at TV, computer, or smartphone screens. When they come to your church playground, they have the chance interact with other kids and their parents on a personal, face-to-face level.
4. A church playground promotes fellowship.
When kids interact at a playground, they learn teamwork, empathy, and appreciation for the things that make their playmates special. Even activities as simple as deciding who goes first on the slide can benefit the development of interactive skills that will serve them well later in life.
5. A church playground attracts young families.
If you’re trying to attract younger families to your church, installing a bright, modern playground is a perfect first step. Not only will young moms and dads feel welcome in your congregation, but they’ll also be more likely to stay after services and engage with others while their kids enjoy some outdoor fun.
Building a Playground in a Small Space
“We’d love to have a playground — we just don’t have the space.” Next to lack of budget, lack of space is one of the most commonly heard objections when church, neighborhood, or school groups propose adding a playground. But with a little creativity (and the right partner, of course), you can build a fun, engaging play area even if space is in short supply.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Choose a predesigned structure made for small spaces.
Many predesigned playground structures are optimized to make the most of a small area.
Make the most of freestanding pieces.
Take a modular approach and select a few multifunctional freestanding pieces to offer multiple play elements in a compact area.
Work with landscape elements.
Look for ways to incorporate trees and other natural elements in your play space design. As an added bonus, you’ll help kids develop a special appreciation for the beauty of nature while they’re having fun.
Have a playground custom-built for your facility.
This option is especially useful for very small, oddly-shaped, or otherwise limited spots. Have an experienced design team put together a custom structure that’s tailor made for your space and the kids and families you serve.
Planning Your Budget
Playgrounds play an important role in every child’s development. Whether you’re planning to build a new playground for your church or want to expand and upgrade an existing one, budgeting is key.
The planning phase is the most critical step in this undertaking, and you’ll want to pay close attention to the following areas:
The overall budget for a playground is generally determined by the number of kids you expect to play there at a single time. The rule of thumb for this is to allocate $1,000 per child in your budget.
This is, however, not the case if you want to build a themed playground, which will be more costly. The age group of the kids you expect to frequent your playground will also play a role in your choice of equipment.
Safety surfacing is a must-have for any playground to prevent injuries from falls. The budget for preparing the site area and installing surfacing, such as wood and rubber, depends on the type of surface you want.
Keep in mind that surfacing like engineered wood fiber requires maintenance over the course of the year, while rubberized surfaces require little or no maintenance, making it a cheaper option in the long run.
Amenities will attract more families to your playground, and of course these costs must also be factored into your budget. Consider whether you want to include benches, grills, tables, bike racks and other accommodations.
Make sure the costs of amenities you choose fall within your budget and that they will appeal to the families in your community (think about demographics, ages of kids, proximity of bike trails, etc).
Another item to keep in mind when budgeting for your playground is the installation cost. This includes site preparation, surfacing and installation of the equipment.
Depending on the site, additional preparation may be required when clearing the area for installations, which can increase your costs. Therefore, always ensure that you know the landscape and what will be required to prepare it for your playground.
Shipping costs for your equipment vary depending on the company you order from as well as their proximity to your location. The further away the company, the higher the shipping costs will be. Do some research and see if you can get the same materials and equipment from companies that are closer to you.
Here are a few additional tips:
* Make sure all the right permits are in place before you begin your project.
* You can save on costs by choosing a site that is relatively flat and has good drainage.
* Account for the costs surrounding sidewalks, wheelchair-accessible paths, and good drainage if these are not already in place.
* Make arrangements for a storage facility in case your equipment arrives earlier than anticipated.
This information is courtesy of All Play, Inc., a Houston-based playground equipment company that knows what it takes to create areas where kids can play, laugh, and grow, www.allplaydoesitall.com.