When it comes to planning for accessible playgrounds there are many factors to consider, two of them are financial support and ensuring a solid team is in place.
We the people
The Inclusive Play Design Guide recommends involving a wide diversity of people in the project—both volunteer and paid staff or consultants. A planning committee should include, at least, representatives from such groups as:
- Leaders in the disability community
- Parents who are raising children with disabilities
- Parents who are raising children who are typically developing
- People from the neighborhood
- Local government officials or staff
- Playground professionals
- The owner/operator of the land
- Staff from local schools and non-profits
The team will need information about a range of disabilities such as physical disabilities, autism, hearing impairment, visual impairment, etc. If there isn’t an expert in these areas on the committee, recruit someone from a local non-profit to provide advice and to review the plans.
The Inclusive Play Design Guide further recommends hiring a landscape architect and an inclusive play design expert. People without previous experience can achieve wonderful things. However, the selective use of qualified experts can smooth the path, reduce the project timeline and increase project quality.
Show us the money
One of the first roles of the planning committee is to develop a fundraising plan. The plan needs to address goals as well as strategies for reaching them. Luckily, there is a wealth of resources to help write fundraising plans.
Playworld Systems offers tips on budgeting as well as a guide to grants. Playworld Systems’ partner in play, KABOOM!, has a series of webinars about fundraising that are available on-demand for free. The International Association of Playground Contractors also has extensive list of funding sources.
Lastly, let’s not forget the importance of communication.
In this day and age, people expect fundraising groups to be transparent. They also want as much information as possible. This means projects need, at the very least, a website and a Facebook page. You may also want to consider other social media sites such as Pinterest, Twitter, Flicker, and Tumbler.
On the project’s website, it is important to include information on budget, plans, progress, and a list of current supporters. Posting the project’s mission statement – why you are doing this – is also a great way to generate interest in the playground. Eventually, the website will transform into a “visit our playground” site, so make plans to keep the site long-term.
Encourage project committee members to use their personal Facebook pages to promote fundraising and friend-raising events. Get as many people as possible to “like” the project’s page in an effort to communicate about the playground with as many interested people as possible.
Consider asking local merchants and restaurants for in-kind donations. Host a contest where those that like the page have the opportunity to win prizes. Ask everyone on the committee to invite all of their friends to join the page. The more people the committee can communicate with, the greater the chance of meeting the fundraising goal. Generating word of mouth will provide the project with a large group of knowledgeable people who can advocate and help move the playground from idea to installation.
For other strategies for getting started, read our blog post about advocating.
Are you ready to get started on an inclusive playground in your area? Please tell us about it.