One universal truth on which we all can agree is that kids like to play. They love little more than getting together and having a bang-up good time. And in almost any cooperative, condominium or homeowners’ association, there is likely to be a gaggle of youths who need to burn off some energy. A board is left with the choice between letting this roving band of rapscallions traverse the property unchecked, wreaking havoc on carefully-manicured lawns, or providing a designated place for kids to gather and enjoy some fresh air. Should said board wisely adopt the latter strategy, there’s a name for this type of consolidated entertainment structure, what we call: a playground.
Clearly, the imperative when housing a playground on a condo or co-op premises is safety. There may also ensue shifting community dynamics or potential lawsuits should a child get hurt. Thus every precaution must be taken to prevent that from happening. So what’s new in playground safety? What materials are being adapted into the works? Are kids playing differently than they were, say, a decade ago?
Patty and Scott Tuminello are the dynamic husband & wife duo that serve as president and vice president, respectively, of Ben Shaffer & Associates, a playground equipment manufacturer’s representation firm that—as part of its vast customer base—works with condominium and homeowners’ associations in New Jersey. The company has had its fingers on the playground pulse for nearly a century, so who better to consult on the latest trends in equipment and safety?
“Equipment nowadays is designed to be inclusive toward children of all ages & physical abilities,” explain the Tumminellos. “The key to achieving this is to offer specific areas that cater to children depending on their needs. For example, a child who may be prone to overstimulation can have a section where he or she can play without realizing that it was designed with that in mind, and can have a friend who is not likely to be as overstimulated play alongside him or her seamlessly.”
Playgrounds today, in an era marked by the proliferation of screens, have more of a physical fitness-forward bent than they would have in the past. “Some playgrounds even come with curriculums designed to promote exercise while still ensuring that things are fun for kids,” note the Tumminellos. “Additionally, a lot of the playgrounds feature outdoor physical fitness areas for adults, surrounding the children’s equipment. That way, you’re still promoting family time in a fun and healthy environment.”