The Learning Academy

100 Level Courses

A Higher Level of Inclusive Play: A new approach to inclusive playground design

Playgrounds are a place for play and learning—where kids develop physical and cognitive skills and build social relationships. However, not all playgrounds are welcoming to people of varying abilities. During this continuing education session, you will learn about the changing population of children on the playground, and how to create playground designs that meet their unique needs.

Learning objectives:

  1. There is a growing demand for inclusive playgrounds that meet the needs of a wide range of abilities.
  2. Going beyond what’s required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures your inclusive playground will be engaging, challenging and therapeutic.
  3. There are specific design elements to include for best practice in an inclusive play environment.
  4. There are best practices to ensure your inclusive playground project is embraced by the community.

Designing Fitness-Focused Playgrounds: A stealth-health community wellness solution

Statistics on obesity rates and sedentary lifestyle changes over generations illustrate the need for community changes and the importance of motivating kids to be active. This continuing education session will provide tips for creating playground designs to get and keep kids active, and help you make a positive and healthy impact on your community.

Learning objectives:

  1. Several fitness benefits can be gained on the playground.
  2. Each fitness benefit is crucial to healthy child development.
  3. Various playground components provide specific fitness benefits.
  4. Playgrounds can be designed for maximum physical fitness benefits.

Inclusive Playspace Design: A Planning Guide

Playgrounds are a place for play and learning, where children develop physical and cognitive skills, and where they build valuable social relationships. It’s about creating spaces where all kids can explore in a variety of settings, addressing a variety of interests, senses and skills. This education session will provide an overview of the 10-step process—from connecting community members to planning, designing, promoting and funding—to develop an inclusive playspace.

Learning objectives:

  1. The inclusive playground definition and its benefits to people of all ages and abilities.
  2. Step-by-step process of managing an inclusive playground project.
  3. Best practices for successful community engagement, participation and activation.

Maintaining Safe Play Environments: Keep your playground compliant and fun


Nature-Inspired Playground Design: Design for participation, education and safety compliance

The benefits of free play and daily exposure to nature have been researched and reported in nearly every media outlet in recent years. Playground planners have an opportunity to create playground spaces that encourage children and families to get outdoors, interact with their environment, learn about their natural surroundings, and encourage the reconnection with nature. The Nature-Inspired Playground Design continuing education session explores the wide range of natural play environments.

Learning objectives:

  1. Play in nature is valuable for healthy child development.
  2. Characteristics of natural play environments include wild spaces to school yards and public parks.
  3. Maximize participation and learning through specific design considerations and best practice programming.
  4. Different safety and accessibility standards apply to various natural playground environments.

Trends in Play Space Design: Activity, engagement and involvement

Parks today face the challenge of providing environments that will attract children and families to engage, play and stay. To compete with indoor, more sedentary activities. In this session, we will examine playground trends that create kid magnets, facilitate multi-generational interaction and signature playgrounds that tell a community story. Discussions will also focus on the opportunities for stronger collaboration between playground designers and park planners.

Learning objectives:

  1. Leading trends in play space design and the external influences driving these trends.
  2. Innovative concepts that can be applied to play space design.
  3. How to specify new concepts and material choices.