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On Nov. 8, the Camp Fire in Northern California destroyed the town of Paradise, CA, and neighboring communities, claiming multiple lives and consuming thousands of buildings, according to Cal Fire. The wildfire, the deadliest in California history, either destroyed or heavily damaged all nine schools in the Paradise Unified School District, and left approximately 4,200 Paradise Unified School District students without a home.

While the community is seeking ways to setup new housing and schools, one thing they won’t need to worry about is a place for children to play. MRC Recreation and GameTime have decided to donate a new playground so children effected by the wildfires have somewhere to play as well as a place to escape the realities of the natural disaster.

The playground will be delivered to the school just in time for the holidays, and MRC’s local recreation designer, Kelly Oakes, is recruiting family and friends to get it installed. Kelly, who is from the area added, “I am very ingrained in this community, and care deeply for the people who live here. I’m blessed to be able to work with a company that understands the difference this can make in the lives of people who have lost so much.”

Brian Gates, Vice President of MRC Recreation with an office headquartered in New Jersey said, “In 2012, many of our homes and neighborhoods were shattered by Superstorm Sandy. We saw first-hand how play can aid as a healing factor for not only children, but adults. It was a no-brainer for us not only as a company but as compassionate individuals to donate this playground to the families of Paradise.”

Julie Kistle, Director of Facilities & Construction for the Chico Unified School District added, “After such a traumatizing event and the loss of homes, schools and community, the District is committed to providing a stable place for students to engage in active learning and fun play.  The MRC and GameTime donation of a playground for a long-term temporary campus for Paradise Unified is a godsend to this community.”

The new play structure is tentatively planned to be delivered and installed during the upcoming school Christmas break.

Posted by Matt Miller

Playgrounds have been shown to be excellent for the development of children. But what about parks for dogs? Obviously, they provide a place for dogs to run free and exercise, but how else are they beneficial for the community? Check out our top 5 reasons your park needs a dog park.

1. First, there are proven physical benefits. Dogs and dog walking provide health benefits linked to a decrease in risk of cardiovascular diseases (i.e. hypertension, high cholesterol). Stress and lack of exercise are two of the leading causes of these diseases. Pets have been shown to have a relaxing effect on the humans that surround them and push their owners to go out and exercise.

2. Dog parks can also be a tool of accessibility. For older people and people with disabilities who may not be able to walk their dogs, dog parks are a safe place for them to go and exercise their dogs.

3. In addition to this, dog parks also provide areas where owners can socialize. In most families, dogs are seen as companions, best friends, and family. Therefore, dog parks provide recreational opportunities and bring together dog lovers, individuals of all ages, and individuals of diverse socioeconomic status, bringing the community closer together.

4. Dog parks can be seen as social and economic capital catalysts. These green, open spaces bring people “out and about” by promoting walkable neighborhoods and a strong sense of community. If this effect happens in a commercial area, the traffic near local businesses would increase.

5. Finally, dog parks can be a source of protection for the area. A positive effect of the visible presence of individuals walking with their dogs generates an increased feeling of collective safety in the neighborhood.

Learn more about dog parks!



Posted by Matt Miller

What is an Inclusive Playground?

November 28th, 2018

Inclusive playgrounds are open and safe spaces, carefully designed to promote play among children of differing abilities, ages and communities. It gives children with and without any disability the same platform to play, while breaking down barriers, both physically and socially. The aim of inclusive play is to address the needs of the whole child.

Why Inclusive Playgrounds are Unique?

Inclusive playgrounds eliminate physical and social barriers so that every child can have fun, regardless of age or ability. Inclusive playgrounds offer an abundance of sensory experiences for all. The true inclusion offered by such playgrounds encourages children, adults and families to experience the benefits of playing together. The equipment and environment designed by MRC are backed by independent research and based on guidelines developed by leaders in the field of inclusive design.

What are the most common disabilities among children?

  • Physical
  • Cognitive
  • Communication
  • Sensory
  • Social, emotional and behavioral

What are common challenges for kids with disabilities?

Difficulty in moving playing materials or areas.

Difficulty in manipulating play objects and spaces in a meaningful and constructive way.

Problem in engaging in the socio-dramatic play in the highest levels.

Not being able to think abstractly.

Trouble in making other kids and adults understand their physical and mental limitations.

Not being able to express their desire to play.

Not able to show if they disliked an activity.

What does outdoor play teach children?

Language Skills

Social Skills

Emotional Balance

Motor Skills

Symbolic Thinking

What are the benefits of inclusive play?

Provides open space for children with different abilities to play together.

Encourages engagement with peers of different capabilities.

Helps make friends.

Leads to mutual understanding.

Offers enjoyable and safe play environments.

What is a Universal Playground Design?

Inclusive playgrounds are mostly influenced by universal design, which is a framework for product, environment and building design. Including universal design in an inclusive playground ensures that the space is accessible, safe, comfortable and encourages social participation.

What are the seven principles of universal design?

  • Principle 1: Equitable Use
  • Principle 2: Flexibility in Use
  • Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use
  • Principle 4: Perceptible Information
  • Principle 5: Tolerance for Error
  • Principle 6: Low Physical Effort
  • Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use

What should be kept in mind during the construction of inclusive playgrounds?

Inclusive

The playground should have something for everyone, both for kids of all capabilities and their parents.

Accessible

Children with and without disability and parents can access the play space. 

Comfortable

The playground should be a combination of quiet and active play areas.

Engaging

Color, texture, sound and movement should engage children.

Fosters cognitive development

The playground should have age-appropriate equipment for spinning, sliding, swinging and rocking.

What are the steps to constructing inclusive playgrounds?

Step 1

Understanding the difference between "inclusive" and "accessible"

Step 2

Incorporating physical play, like monkey bars and swings.

Step 3

Adding sensory play elements, like swings and spinners to foster creativity and social skills.

Step 4

Incorporating communication skills, like musical games and activities that encourage hand-eye coordination.

Step 5

Adding social areas where kids can enjoy solitude and feel secure, physically and emotionally.

Step 6

Including lifts and ramps for elevated play.

Posted by Matt Miller

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