Play is fundamentally human. It’s something
that makes life fun and worth living. It’s one of the seven factors for human survival.
So play is right up there together with getting nutrition, together with experiencing love
and safety, together with sleeping and so on. Play is fundamental for our social development,
for our physical development but also for our cognitive development. More than 70 % of
the population in the western world live in densely populated cities with limited space
for outdoor play. In the USA, for example, children spend 7½ hours per day, on average,
on screen-based activities. To stay healthy, children need a minimum of 60 minutes a day
physical activity. The World Health Organization defines physical activity for children as
play, first and foremost. So, some cities have made policies for the proximity of playgrounds
and set a goal of a 10 minute walk to the nearest recreational area. It’s important
that we provide opportunities for residents of diverse ages, diverse abilities and interests
to recreate, to socialize, to be engaged, and to be challenged. And also to have a restpit
from the city environment. To motivate and attract children to play, a great playground
should make children and families say WOW – and feel an urge to play on it. You can
see kids running to it from the far end of the street. They just want to run to it and
check it out, ‘cause it is unique, it stands out. To make children and families STAY and
come back again and again, a great playground should offer a wide variety of play. There
is a lot of talk about obesity issues, in Australia, with children, and actually to
get them out and play, here we have actually got a number of play elements as well, so
it is not just for a certain age group, the way that the play area has been designed and
structured allows the kids to come out and play and not be bored after 15-20 minutes.
I want to go to this park every single time I want to come to the park. While children
are playing, a great playground should stimulate the children’s development: their physical,
cognitive, creative, and social skills. The skills that they will benefit from the rest
of their lives. And play matters greatly for a child’s development. This is backed by
extensive research. Professor Heckman of University of Chicago even argues that investment in
early childhood education is the best investment in education that societies can make. What
we wanted to do was to make sure that it was a very inclusive project so there was something
that all the children could access. So, there was a range of different things for them to
do. Encompassing all the different areas of learning. Not just to the physical development
side. We also liked the fact that there was a sensory approach to the equipment as well,
so the children could be feeling it. There was lots of language opportunity which is
something that was on our development plans. KOMPAN Play Institute, KOMPAN’s in-house
playground research department, studies changes in childhood and helps develop and assess
purposeful play designs. The Play Institute draws upon an external network of experts
and collaborates with universities in order to stay at the forefront of research. The
KOMPAN Play Institute dates back from the 80’ies, so KOMPAN was the first company
to actually take on the challenge of documenting their knowledge on children’s play and playgrounds.
So when we venture into development and innovation project at KOMPAN we have always thoroughly
researched the background of children today. But the true experts of play are the children.
So in the development children are invited to test-play and comment on our new concepts.
These tests ensure age appropriateness and: that the products support relevant development
points within the given age range. KOMPAN is highly dedicated to the principles of Universal
design. This means that developing inclusive playgrounds that invite children of all ages
and abilities to play together. KOMPAN’s philosophy is clear: no one should be excluded. We all have an important responsibility in motivating outdoor play. Because great playgrounds
positively influence children’s wellbeing and foster important life skills. Great playgrounds
also serve as a meeting point where friendships are made.