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Increasing Play Value with Surfacing

Every public playground needs safe and accessible surfacing. It’s also worth noting that a substantial part of the playground budget is allocated to surfacing. So, what’s the best way to maximize your investment? By incorporating designs, games, and surface variations, the play value of the playground can be significantly enhanced. This not only tells the story of your playground, but also provides crucial wayfinding information. In this course, we’ll discuss how unitary surfacing can transform a typical playground into the talk of the town.

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

Establish methods to enhance play value through the use of surfacing.
Describe how surfacing can help support wayfinding systems and site safety.
Explain the advantages of disadvantages of intricate surfacing designs.

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About this course

What will I learn?

Of course, we know that the primary purpose of safety surfacing is to prevent injury. But, in addition to that, surfacing can also be used to foster wayfinding and increase play value. Furthermore, when designing an accessible play space, it’s also important to know how each surfacing type compares to one another.

In this course, Mara Kaplan of Let Kids Play will teach you the safety standards related to playground surfacing. In addition, she’ll also teach you industry terms and definitions to keep in mind while selecting a surfacing.

  • Shock Absorption: Also known as impact attenuation, shock absorption refers to the properties of the surfacing that assist in preventing or minimizing injuries.
  • Play Value: Describes the value an environment, object, or piece of equipment brings to children’s play experience.
  • ASTM F1292: The standard designed to prevent life-threatening and debilitating head injuries only. In Canada, this standard is known as CSA Z614:20.
  • ASTM F1951: An accessibility standard that measures the work an individual must exert to propel a wheelchair across a surface.
  • GMAX: A unit of measurement that quantifies the hardness of a surface. The higher the GMAX, the harder and more dangerous the surfacing is.
  • HIC (Head Injury Criteria): A head injury measurement based upon the GMAX and how it relates to brain trauma.

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 "Increasing Play Value with Surfacing."

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?

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