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Explore Inclusive Playgrounds

In this course, we’ll take a look at a variety of successful inclusive playgrounds across the USA – from the east coast in New York to the west in Nevada. We’ll pinpoint key design features that contribute to the inclusivity of these playgrounds. Furthermore, we’ll explore how each community has personalized their playgrounds to cater to the specific needs of their residents. This includes integrating inclusive elements such as ground-level play, access ramps, unique themes, and a plethora of sensory play activities.

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to:

Describe the various types of children who frequent an inclusive playground.
Explain key concepts such as range of challenge, parallel play, and sensory play.
Recognize the crucial components of an inclusive playground design.

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About this course

What will I learn?

The playground industry is constantly changing and evolving. What once was considered inclusive and accessible is no longer the case. As playground designers, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest developments in inclusion, and take inspiration from recently completed projects.

In this course, Mara Kaplan of Let Kids Play breaks down six inclusive playgrounds. She illustrates what makes each park inclusive/accessible, and how they meet the specific needs of the community they serve.

  1. Julie’s Jungle (Hopewell Junction, NY): This inclusive playground features rubber tiles, a ramped play structure, a 2-5 year-old play area, and an obstacle course for older kids.
  2. Centennial Park (Lemont, IL): This playground includes a combination of pour in place rubber and artificial turf, fabric play shades, wheelchair transfer stations, and playhouses.
  3. Angie’s Playground (Florissant, MO): An Unlimited Play playground with a custom floral theme, playground fence, and two ramped play structures for 2-5 and 5-12 year-olds.
  4. Funtopia Playground (Elizabethtown, KY): This playground features a tall tower structure with ramps that go to the very top, as well as a toddler area with sensory activities.
  5. Town Creek Park (Auburn, AL): A scenic playground with five distinct areas, such as a games area, natural play area, musical area, and a pavilion area with restrooms.
  6. Marina Park (Sparks, NV): An all-abilities playground with rope climbers, sensory play activities, and musical instruments where parents and kids can play together.

Who is my instructor?

Mara Kaplan is the Founder of Let Kids Play, a consulting firm that partners with manufacturers, communities, and parents to develop projects and strategies that provide optimal play opportunities for children.

Recognized nationally as an expert in designing play spaces, Mara is a committed advocate for inclusive play. As an educator and parent to a child with a disability, she holds a 25-year track record in designing, building, and managing both indoor and outdoor play environments. Her expertise also extends to play spaces and toys for children with and without disabilities.

In 1995, Mara, and five other parents raising children with disabilities, identified the significance of play in their children’s learning. They were determined to build a space where children of varying abilities could play together, leading to the founding of the Center for Creative Play. Mara served as its Executive Director for seven years before embarking on her journey with Let Kids Play.

Mara’s educational background includes a degree in elementary education and a minor in gifted education from Indiana University (Bloomington, IN). She later acquired her MBA, specializing in non-profit management, from Boston University.

Mara’s endeavors have earned her the Shore-Whitehill award for her efforts in enhancing the lives of people with special needs. Her work has been showcased in publications such as, the Wall Street Journal, Be the Change, and the Social Enterprise Reporter.

Who is this course for?

The great thing about our courses is that they’re designed for all levels of experience. Whether you’re a parent on a PAC planning your first playground, or a landscape architect with decades of experience, there’s always something new to learn. Plus, our courses offer a quick way to stay up to date with the most recent trends in playground design.

Our courses take into account multiple groups and audiences, all of whom have different needs for their playground. A few groups that will benefit from taking our courses include:

  • Parents: Parent volunteers will learn the most important aspects to consider when planning their playground project.
  • Teachers: Teachers will learn about the educational benefits of play and how to incorporate them on the playground.
  • Landscape Architects: Architects will learn innovative design ideas that they may use in their upcoming projects.
  • Parks & Recreation: Parks professionals will learn about recent advances in safety, inclusion, and sustainability.
  • Property Managers: Property managers will learn how playgrounds can attract families to live in their neighbourhood.
Mara Kaplan, course instructor for "Explore Inclusive Playgrounds."

Mara Kaplan

Founder, Let Kids Play

Mara Kaplan is a nationally recognized expert in inclusive play, with 25 years of experience designing outdoor environments. She is the driving force behind Let Kids Play, a consulting firm that works with parents and communities to create accessible play spaces.

More Courses?

We’re glad that you enjoyed this course! If you’re looking to learn more about play, check out our full collection of course videos.

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Playgrounds 101

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