How have playgrounds changed over the years? The history of playgrounds stems back to the 1850’s, when the very first playgrounds were created in England. In the 1900’s and early 2000’s, there does not seem to be much change on the surface. Adults may still see the climbers, slides, teeter-totters and swings they remember from their childhoods, but in fact, the evolution of playgrounds has changed significantly – even in just the past few years.
How Playgrounds Have Changed
Playgrounds have changed in a few basic ways:
- Materials. In the past, many playgrounds were made with metal and treated lumber. Today, due to health concerns, treated lumber is no longer used because it can leach toxins. Many manufacturers today use high-quality metals to build their equipment, which tends to last longer than wooden counterparts.
- Standards. One of the biggest changes to playground equipment over the years has been safety standards. Today’s play equipment is safer than ever before, with reinforced frames and “ouchless” designs that help prevent pinching. While supervision is still the most important way to keep kids safe on the playground, safer equipment can help reduce the risk of injuries.
- Purpose. The evolution of playground equipment has been shaped by our understanding of childhood development. In the past, playgrounds were seen as just a place for kids to blow off steam. Today, childhood experts know playgrounds are an important part of development and companies are creating innovative play equipment which helps children build social skills while also encouraging physical, emotional, sensory and cognitive development.
- Fun. Playgrounds are more fun than ever before, with exciting new pieces of equipment that go far beyond standard swing sets, such as rope course-inspired equipment. Even electronic equipment is available, as is equipment in brighter colors and fun shapes which really engages young imaginations. Miracle Recreation® is at the forefront of this movement, working with designers and engineers to consistently bring you unique and thrilling play equipment that makes playground time a real adventure.
- Inclusiveness. In the 1980’s, all playgrounds had to be accessible and had to comply with ADA regulations, meaning they had to allow wheelchair users and others with physical disabilities to access the area. Today, we have moved beyond that and have embraced the importance of inclusive playgrounds. Inclusive playgrounds allow children of all different conditions and abilities to engage. Instead of a separate area of “special needs” equipment, inclusive playgrounds allow everyone to play together, so no one is left out. Inclusive playgrounds also think beyond physical conditions and create quiet spaces for children who can get overwhelmed, for example.
Do You Have Outdated Play Equipment?
An older playground is not just outdated. With changing safety standards, it may also fail to meet minimum guidelines for play safety. If you need help choosing more modern pieces for your play space, contact your nearest Miracle Recreation sales rep to find out more about safety standards and updating your playground.