Playgrounds play an important role in every child’s development. Whether you’re planning to build a new playground for your school, church, or community in the new year 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.

Equipment

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.

Surfacing

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

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).

Installation

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.

Freight Costs

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.

 

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.

Good luck!

Yes, the world has greatly changed since the U.S. park system was created in the 1930s, but the importance of parks and playgrounds in the lives of American children has never changed.

Today some might question the need for more or better parks and playgrounds, based on their belief that children prefer video games and other indoor activities. But a new report released by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) tells us that nothing could be further from the truth. According to the 2016 report, an overwhelming number of Americans believe that parks play a vital role in the lives of their children, their communities and themselves. In fact, 7 in 10 Americans go to their local parks, and 4 in every 5 believe that our parks are worth investing in.

perceptions-infographic

The report also states that despite digital transformation, demographic shifts, and change in the way both adults and children interact with each other, public support for local parks is at an all-time high.

The U.S. National Park Service sees further benefits of the national and local parks as well as children’s playgrounds. These outdoor assets are an important part of the America’s educational system, where children not only get to see and experience some of the things they learn in class but also pick up important social skills.

The NRPA report concludes that “besides the prevailing tight fiscal environment, Americans agree that local, state and national leaders need to dedicate financial resources to sustain and expand local park and other leisure facilities.”

So the next time someone offers resistance to your new or expanded playground plans, point them to this report and infographic, and remind them that the public’s passion for outdoor play is alive and well in America!

During the winter season, many states have extreme weather conditions that keep them indoors most of the time.  Fortunately, we live in Texas, where outdoor play can be a year-round activity, even during the holiday season. Here are a few fun ideas for engaging families in your community during this festive time of year.

  1. Themed Events

You can conduct themed events during daytime or (with proper lighting) evening hours. For instance, during the day you could host an Alice in Wonderland–themed event where kids dress up as their favorite characters and enjoy a holiday tea party, or go with a Dr. Seuss theme, complete with props and masks as well as creative decorations. If you decide to go with an evening event, string lights on nearby trees to create a winter wonderland the whole family can enjoy.

2. Santa Meet-and-Greet

Every child wants to meet Santa and share this year’s wish list. Getting a Santa to interact with the kids — and maybe also read some beloved holiday stories — is a great activity that’s sure to get a festive vibe going. You can also have other holiday characters, such as snowmen/women and reindeer, and incorporate live entertainment from local musicians. Extend the activity to kids with disabilities as well so that the whole community feels involved.

3. Caroling Night

Musical events are always a hit during the holiday season. Caroling helps everyone get into the spirit and brings the whole community together for a fun-filled evening. Invite local performers as well as children’s choirs to lead an evening of sing-alongs. Encourage attendees to bring lawn chairs or cushions to sit on as they enjoy the music. As an added bonus, singing is not only fun, but also highly therapeutic, so it’s a perfect activity for stressed-out moms and dads during this busy time of year!

4. Reindeer Games

Invite local families to take a break from the holiday rush for some outdoor fun and games at your playground, and choose games the whole family can participate in. Think about a gift-wrapping race or an arts-and-crafts competition, or bring in a snow machine for a snowman-building contest. Another fun option is a candy cane race: Divide the kids up into teams and have each child hold a candy cane, then have each team link their candy canes together and run as a group toward the finish line. If the candy-cane link breaks, they have to start over, and the first team to cross the finish line wins.

5. Holiday Markets

This is a terrific option for getting moms and dads involved: Host a holiday fair where you encourage your community to support local businesses. Invite local restaurants to serve food and local vendors to bring their gift-worthy wares for sale. Include face painting and other activities for the kids to enjoy while mom and dad are shopping. The grownups get to shop for unique gifts in a stress-free environment, local businesses get some valuable exposure, and your playground may attract some first-time visitors.

No matter which activity you decide, this is a perfect opportunity to get the whole community together in the spirit of the season.

Merry Christmas & Happy holidays!

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