September 05, 2017

Playground Planning 101: Prepare for the Future

It's Just So Hard to Say Goodbye.

We've had a lot of fun sharing ideas on planning the perfect playground project. This is the final installment of the Playground Planning 101 series. Want to catch up before you read the end? Check out part one, part two, part three, part four and part five. All caught up? Great! Now, let's talk about what's next to make sure your playground continues to be a successful part of your community!

Your playground is complete, and you’ve done a ton of work:

  1. Do a boatload of planning to determine your needs and budget - CHECK
  2. Rally the troops and get a ton of people on your side - DONE
  3. Figure out where the playground will be - AFFIRMATIVE
  4. Choose the vendor of your dreams - I DO
  5. Use the inspiration of NKOTB to plan and manage your event - WORD

Now you can enjoy the fruits of your labor but first, we need to make sure you promote the actual use of the playground. Sure it will sit there and look pretty but it will be so much happier when tons of people are there to enjoy it and have fun. If you’ve got it, flaunt it! You certainly do and here are some ways you can do just that.

Family Parties & Events

Ain’t no party like a playground party! This play space is a fun and engaging place to host parties and family gatherings. Think of ways to make this space comfortable for groups to gather. The addition of tables, benches, strategically placed grills and trash receptacles will be essential for families who may want to picnic or grill out at a space close to where their kids can play. Offering shaded options like a shelter with tables underneath should also be considered - that can be a lifesaver in August! Having a space where multiple generations can gather and interact is important for building relationships that are vital to a sense of belonging, whether for families or members of the community. Planning should also include close proximity to parking and restrooms for maximum comfort and usability. People will be impressed you thought of all those little details.

Programming & Learning

The world is your classroom and your playground definitely falls into that category. Playgrounds can provide both fun and educational opportunities for children to gather. Groups like camps, before/after school activities, and school field trips can use these outdoor spaces to promote not only physical activity but social engagement and interactive outdoor learning. Teach your children basic math skills by asking them to count the number of slides on the playground, or about gravity by dropping a ball from the top of the play space. You can also take advantage of the easy access you may have to nature to teach them about the seasons as the leaves change colors. Of course, you have to do all that in a totally non-annoying way. Sneak that in in a fun way, which the playground naturally provides.

Community Specific Events

A lot of communities have events they would like to provide but currently can’t because there is no space to host it. Super Playground Hero to the rescue! (that’s you, by the way.) Getting feedback from community leaders in the planning process (which you did) will help them feel more involved and more likely to use and engage the space once it is complete. Does your community want to host more family friendly, outdoor fundraisers? As we mentioned before, the addition of shelters with tables and easily accessible bathrooms would be a great addition to your playground area for that very reason.

Management, Maintenance & Supervision

You’ve already proved to be a great planner so let’s keep that fun going. The long term success of the playground will be determined by the amount of management and maintenance involved before, during, and after its construction. The site manager will need to make regular maintenance inspections, implement risk management strategies, maintain expenses related to upkeep, and develop a response strategy for potential issues that may come up. Request a free copy of our playground maintenance guide to help with this.

Building a playground is no small feat (um, hello, obviously). Enlisting the help of others as passionate as you about providing the community’s children with an environment to learn and play will help each person feel like they’ve contributed to a cause bigger than themselves. To sum up: be sure you understand the play space needs of your area, research the materials that best meet those needs, and recruit volunteers to assist your project. This investment will not only benefit your children, but many generations to come and will make your neighborhood a more inviting place to live. You’re going to feel so proud once you see that first kid take a trip down the slide, that inaugural swing might just bring tears to your eyes. And we will help you every step of the way.

Want to know more about playground planning, fundraising and more? Request the free Blueprint for Play Toolkit.