US Play Coalition’s National Play Conference Wrap-up

This past weekend seven of us travelled down to Clemson, South Carolina for the US Play Coalition Conference. Starting Sunday afternoon and stretching until Tuesday night were a series of talks held by some of the most innovative and exciting experts in the Playground and Parks and Recreation Field. We were thrilled to meet the leaders of Magical Bridge and Harper’s Playground to share some tips on inclusive play, as well as chat about inclusivity with top manufacturing professionals and designers. Nothing made this more evident than joining the Inclusive Play sub-committee, which should help promote inclusive play throughout the year.

We presented our work on our Quantitative Playground Survey. Detailing exactly how it was developed, what it focused on, and our two different applications on a national and regional level. Thankfully, it was well received, with several follow up questions asked by Ingrid Kanics, a leader in the inclusive play field. We were excited to share our survey with the group, and hope that it will be used to help spread the message about inclusive play.

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We hope to feature some of our favorite talks in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned.

Titus Sparrow Playground

  • Location: South End
  • Age Groups: All Ages
  • Inclusivity/Inclusive Elements: Xylophone, car wheel + gear, sandbox and scoopers, bar
  • Features:
    • Bench features a solar panel in the middle where you can charge your phone
    • Sand diggers
    • Church in background is very scenic
    • Basketball court provides good functionality
  • Great if you’re looking for:
    • An inclusive, constructive play setup
    • The sandbox and the wheel accessible sand scoopers are excellent inclusive features to this playground
  • Keep looking if:
    • You really need shade

Mothers Rest Playground

From time to time we will be featuring some of our favorite playgrounds in the Boston area for you to visit. For our first feature, we will be focusing on the Mothers Rest Playground, located in the Back Bay Fens area.

Mothers Rest is very busy on beautiful days
Mothers Rest is very busy on beautiful days

Tucked away in the Back Bay Fens, Mothers Rest sits in a very pretty spot in Boston
Tucked away in the Back Bay Fens, Mothers Rest sits in a very pretty spot in Boston
  • Location: Back Bay Fens, 853 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215
    • This playground is accessible by foot to the surrounding community, as well as public transportation
  • Age Groups: mostly toddlers and young children (around ages 2-8)
  • Inclusivity/inclusive elements: 
    • disc swing
    • audible play/musical features like xylophone and drums
    • imaginative play like a storefront countertop
  • Favorite element in playground: disc swing
    • It’s fun for all ages and inclusive to virtually all abilities!
  • Features:
    • great layout with varied equipment and safe surfaces
    • safe for children: there are barriers and guardrails free of defects, the structural equipment is well maintained, and there is a protecting fence separating play from hazardous areas
  • Great if you’re looking for: 
    • high visibility of playground areas
    • varied playground equipment apt for small children
  • Keep looking if: 
    • you’re looking for more challenging play equipment
    • you want a playground with a water fountain and bathroom close by

Friends, baked goods, and inclusive design

This blog post marks the start of the spring semester in the third year of the Playground Project: INDIGO’s existence. After a long period of experimentation and taking on different projects in the name of inclusive design, we seem to be zeroing in on exactly how we can best help the community and improve the world around us. We begin this semester with seven of our members in Boston, some in classes and some on co-op. Luckily, Grace is here this semester to bring her delicious desserts to every meeting!

In hopes of accomplishing as much as possible, we decided to switch things up a little and break the group into smaller teams- each with a centralized focus. While continuing to meet weekly as a whole group, we have created groups specializing in playground design research, website improvement, and the documentation of our various endeavours. We will assess the effectiveness of this choice over the course of the semester.
A large part of our research and advocacy involves attending community meetings around the Boston area, during which we aim to serve as a resource to designers and enthusiastic parents who are eager to participate in the process of playground designs or renovations. Roslindale, a residential neighbourhood located in Boston, MA, has been one of the communities with which we have established a close relationship with by attending community meetings and hearing the needs and wants of the community. These meetings have allowed us to not only hear what parents and children want in their playgrounds, but to think of the best way in which inclusivity and accessibility can be integrated into the design. They have also allowed us to make connections with playground designers and Boston city officials- connections that seem to be paying off.

Copley Wolff Design Group, designers in charge of the renovations of the Healy Playground in Roslindale

Today, four of our members met with the designers of the Healy Playground and Cathy Baker-Eclipse of Boston Parks and Recreation to offer our feedback after the initial design was proposed at the community meeting two weeks ago. With a focus on inclusivity, we spoke about the elements of the design that we liked very much, relatively small and/or simple fixes that we think would make the playground more inclusive, and some more extreme and/or cost intensive possibilities. It was extremely exciting to see how seriously our thoughts and input were taken by the designers. They took notes, asked questions, and were truly receptive to what we had to say. It’s nice to see how seriously people take you when you really know what you’re talking about- and when it comes to creating inclusive play spaces, we believe that we are very well versed and are committed to continuously learning as much as we can. After a fantastic meeting, the cherry on top came when Ms. Baker-Eclipse asked if we would be interested in meeting with another design team to discuss inclusivity. Is this the birth of The Playground Project: INDIGO Consulting Firm? If it is we’re definitely going to have to work on the name.