How to Get Your Playground Started
If you’d like to take the first steps toward building an inclusive playground in your community, Unlimited Play can provide a few guidelines. Below you’ll find suggestions to get you started, but for more detailed information, download a free copy of our “How to Build an Inclusive Playground” by clicking here.
Write down your inspiration – in other words, what inspired you to build a playground for all children. Your desire to build an all inclusive playground will be challenged during this process and you will want to remember your original inspiration.
Form a Committee – Regardless of whether your budget is $50,000 or a $1,000,000, building an Unlimited Play playground will be a big challenge. You will want to look for a variety of individuals who will each bring a different skill and perspective to your design. As a recommendation you should include:
- Parents/Caregivers with and without children with special needs
- Occupational, physical, developmental, and/or speech therapists
- Business leaders with connections within the community
- Individuals with fundraising experience
- Public relations specialists
- Construction Project Managers
Location – Now you are ready to begin looking for your ideal place to build your playground. Begin by approaching all cities within your local community. Look for a city that is willing to not only provide land to build on, but also contribute financially. Let them know this playground will become a source of community pride and a potential tax revenue generator. Here are a few tips on how to choose a city to work with:
- Existing park – Building within an existing park can often cut project costs dramatically. Look for a place with existing restrooms and water supply.
- Land that has existing hills that can be used for a berm to reduce ramping requirements
- Location – Your playground will become a destination, drawing families from areas up to an hour or more away. A playground/ park location that is easily accessible to a freeway or main road is ideal.
- Evaluate the city’s commitment and excitement about your project. If community leaders are not excited and cooperative from the start, it will only get harder as the project progresses.
Contract – A contract between your organization and the city or private entity is vital to your project’s success. This contract needs to outline where the playground will be built, the amount of land you can build on, what financial responsibilities each party has, etc.
Design – When you are finally ready to begin designing your dream playground, choosing the right vendor is extremely important. Here are a few criteria that will help you determine what vendor you will want to build with:
- Can the company customize? This is often needed to make a playground wheelchair accessible.
- Can they theme? This is important to help children who have difficulty in creating imaginative play on their own, and to help mask the appearance of accessibility features like ramps.
- What does the company provide to serve the needs of children with cochlear implants other than basic metal slides?
- What unique features are provided with high play value and accessibility
Fundraising/Community Engagement – Community engagement is an essential component that will lead to success in bringing a universally accessible playground to your community. Bringing key players to the table will help you raise the awareness and resources needed.
- Form a separate fundraising/community engagement committee with representatives from the various community sectors.
- Schedule a session to discuss why your community needs this universally accessible playground.
- Spend some time identifying some viable “partners” for your project. Partners include players (people who will advocate on your behalf) and funders.
- Make a list of potential fundraisers that can help you raise both funds and awareness.
- Strategize tactics to raise awareness about your efforts.
- Review your outlined efforts and designate the opportunity for volunteers.
- Keep your community engaged throughout your project with fundraising kick off, ground breaking, community build and ribbon cutting events.