Supplement Feature - April 2012
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Go Play!

Vibrant Colors, Exciting Layouts Capture Interest

By Julie Knudson

Kid-driven creativity is invading playgrounds across the country, and Winston Lindsay IV, project chair for the Ponca City Noon Ambucs, said the trend was an important factor when designing the new structures for the Doug Nickles Memorial Playground in Ponca City, Oklahoma's Ambuc Park. "People want to see and experience something different," Lindsay explained. "For our project, we wanted to make it suited for varying abilities and to be more inclusive."

The park boasts a wide range of features, and from the popular side-by-side slides to the meandering boardwalk that links the different play areas together, there's something in it for everyone.

"I think there's a trend to break apart the massive composite play structures into pockets of play," said Thomas Norquist, secretary of the International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) and senior vice president of marketing, design and innovation for a playground equipment manufacturer in Fort Payne, Ala. "Some of that is being placed along trails, and sometimes it's placed within large regional parks." He said he increasingly sees installations that offer multiple "moderately scaled opportunities for play" rather than a single massive playground.

Jim Sindelar, Ponca City's park and recreation director, partnered with Lindsay on the Doug Nickles playground design and installation. He said that bringing kids of varying ages and abilities together throughout the various play areas was a priority. "The idea that kids could socialize by using the playground together is one thing we really looked at," Sindelar said. "Everything is connected, and people can go through the entire playground and be playing together." Providing a range of stimulation devices was key. The park's new equipment incorporates hand-eye coordination activities as well as educational features to grab the children's attention and prompt them to use their minds.