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On Play Capacity in Playgrounds and Children

10-25-2010 10:06 AM CET | Sports

Press release from: KOMPAN Playscape Pty Ltd

On Play Capacity in Playgrounds and Children

You can get a count of almost everything in this world: the amount of water in all
American rivers, the total knowledge in an organization, the number of wired brain cells in an average human being …the possibilities for making counts are endless! Counting phenomena
of our world gives us a very basic human feeling of control, which we need to navigate life.

Maybe that is why children make us smile: they surprise us with behavior and questions
uncounted for. They notice details, which we ignore. Their open-mindedness makes them creative in ways we as adults have long forgotten. Children remind us that human existence is still miraculous and uncontrollable to some extent.

The somewhat rebellious and surely uncountable way of our children might sometimes worry us as playground professionals: Are we sure that the behavioral possibilities and needs of our children are catered for in this new playground and its play equipment? Apart from it
being safe, will our playground provide play for the amount of children we plan for?

Playgrounds and play equipment can be planned in details: we can to a certain extent tell what the children will do first or even most with this equipment. We can create playgrounds and equipment, which offer exactly what most children of a given age group need for their development. We can design intelligent solutions so that the equipment develops with the child and offer new levels of play as the child grows. We can plan the frames for a playground stimulating our children physically, socially, emotionally, intellectually and creatively.

What we cannot do is foresee when the play begins, and how many children will participate
in what games for how long. What they will find most playful today. We cannot tell all the
games the children will play. Is sitting on a structure stairway part of the play? It could be!

Because: the play is in the children, not in the equipment. The equipment being well designed, it might cheer up a dull environment and have a sculptural function when no children are around. But the function of the play equipment is non-existing till a child comes along and starts interacting with it.

The interaction between the play equipment and the children can be all from just touching a rounded panel of a play structure to actually swinging or sliding.

Sliding and slides are in fact a good example of play capacity. In a normal single slide, how many play activities would there be? If it is a very good slide, let’s say three. Firstly: sliding, secondly the stairway up to the slide, thirdly, maybe a room under the slide. If we concentrate on just the slide bed, it is not fair to count it as one play event for one child. Because the play
is in the children, the play events could be numerous: Physically: the child could train walking
up the slide bed. Socially: the child could slide together with a friend. Intellectually: the child could make experiments with the speed of sliding holding or letting go of the handrails.
jeajes Page 2 10/25/2010
Emotionally: the child could get the rush of letting go, leaving speed in the hands of gravity. Creatively: the children could imagine the slide being Superman’s car, being a dangerous snake or even a cozy stairway, where the children have to live because they have no parents. The imaginative talent of our children makes the play unlimited.

Play activities in a piece of equipment cannot be counted. The playground creators or the play equipment designers can have an idea of how many children they intent, say, seated on their product. But they cannot control the actual number, say, standing. Jumping. Lying. Only the children at play and their never resting imagination can decide that!

KOMPAN provides award winning playground equipment including swing sets, slides, rope nets and playhouses that suit all ages and abilities.

KOMPAN Playscape Pty Ltd
12 Kingtel Place, Geebung, Queensland, Australia, 4034

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