Build Playgrounds, Build Community
Constructing a new playground can be a great way to build community, providing people an opportunity to work together on a fun and rewarding project. When you get your community involved from the start, you can boost your funding opportunities from the get-go and create a sense of ownership.
Q: We'd love to get our community involved in our playground project. How can we get started?
A: A community build can seem overwhelming at first but once you start and involve the right people and partners, it becomes a manageable and fun project!
1. Start by identifying the key players who will use the playground. This could be families in the surrounding area, local schools, childcare centers, church groups or other organizations.
2. Check in with local organizations and businesses that are likely to support such a project, including civil service organizations, local service clubs, neighborhood associations and local government.
3. Invite them to participate. Create groups to focus on important tasks such as project design, fundraising, public relations, snacks and water, supervision, training and construction. Team leaders should organize their part of the project, including setting a schedule and keeping community members excited and motivated as the project progresses.
4. Have a kickoff meeting—make the atmosphere fun to help generate excitement.
Q: What steps are involved as we plan our playground and community build?
A: There are several important steps to planning a successful build. A snapshot includes:
1. Needs Assessment: Gather community input and ideas and determine objectives. Here it is important to factor in budget, kid capacity, space, accessibility and site.
2. Design: Design the playground of your dreams that fits within your budget and that meets your defined objectives.
3. Execution: Conduct a pre-construction conference with committee members, volunteers and construction personnel. Create a plan for receiving your playground and for the build day. Once equipment is received, organize all equipment into the following groups: posts and decks, railings and barriers, components, safety surfacing, etc. Your manufacturer should provide detailed instructions on site preparation and assembly to be sure you're ready to install your playground when the big day arrives. In addition, your local manufacturer's representative can be a terrific partner in the entire planning process—they are typically well versed in community builds.
4. Build Day: Have a sign-in area for volunteers where they can pick up name tags/shirts, meet their team leaders and receive their instructions. Don't forget to provide plenty of water, food and encouragement.
Q: The playground is up—what's next?
A: The playground is almost ready to be enjoyed by all! Just a few more steps:
1. Celebrate! Make sure all volunteers know their help and time was appreciated.
2. Set up caution tape around the perimeter to keep people off the equipment until it's ready. You will typically need to allow 72 hours for concrete to set.
3. Have a Certified Playground Safety Inspector audit your playground to verify compliance with all applicable safety standards.
4. Create a maintenance plan so your playground looks nice and stays safe for years to come.
5. Host a grand opening or ribbon cutting. Invite the local media to spread the word about your new playspace!
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