Designing Public Parks for All Ages
Public parks provide communities with fun and relaxation for all ages. Whether you take a midday stroll or spend hours on the playground equipment, parks let you connect with nature and the community.
Parks should appeal to people of different ages. That way, people in all age groups can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of these recreation spaces. But sometimes, public parks don’t provide opportunities for all ages or abilities. They might only appeal to kids, leaving adults disinterested, or parks might not offer play equipment that suits both younger and older children.
When you design a public park with all ages in mind, you provide community residents with an ideal recreational area. Luckily, there are always ways to update a current park to be more inclusive. You can also create a new park designed specifically for every age group.
The Benefits of Age-Inclusive Public Parks
An age-inclusive park provides many advantages for both individuals and the community. When you design a park with everyone in mind, the entire community feels represented. They can connect with neighbors while also improving their physical well-being.
There are many other benefits of public parks for all ages. An age-inclusive public park can:
- Help the environment: Public parks are optimal spaces for ecosystem growth. You can plant trees and build ponds or other waterways. In turn, these provide plants and animals a safe space to grow and access to clean water sources. Urban parks stop the flow of harmful stormwater, cleansing it with vegetation and rerouting it back to the earth.
- Create community connections: A public park is a free and communal area. Open to all ages, parks create gathering spaces for people to connect. Whether it’s adults meeting for a lunchtime stroll or kids sharing a playdate, people can enjoy the fresh air with their family and friends. Parks are also ideal spots for making new connections or learning more about your community.
- Improve physical health: Physical activity is essential for everyone’s health, both young and old. Parks offer many opportunities for exercise, from walking on trails to playing with friends. The more community members exercise, the more they could improve their cardiovascular health and strengthen bone density.
- Boost mental health: Spending time in nature has an abundance of positive effects on mental health. Time outside can improve cognitive functioning, reduce stress, and heighten creativity. These mental improvements could help kids focus and learn more in school, and the time outdoors can help anyone with a mental illness.
- Add value to your area: An age-inclusive park adds high value to your local areas. Having a park can increase nearby property values, and it gives people and animals ample opportunities for clean air and water. It could also improve residents’ happiness and make the entire area a desirable place to live.
How to Make an Existing Park Enjoyable for All Ages
To make a park enjoyable for every age group, you don’t need to start from scratch. There are many ways to update a current park to make it more age inclusive. In doing so, you’re likely to get more park visitors and improve community connections.
Here’s how to make the park enjoyable for all ages.
Plan More Activities for Your Current Park
One of the best ways to drive more visitors to your park is by planning more age-inclusive activities. If all your local programs cater to just one age group, it discourages other ages from feeling welcomed at the park. You create a more inclusive space that recognizes more interests and abilities by providing activities for everyone.
These are some ideas for planning age-inclusive activities:
- Offer programs that appeal to different ages: When designing new activities, research ideas for various groups. From toddlers to seniors, be sure to provide opportunities for everyone. You could organize these as separate events or try to find activities that anyone could enjoy. For instance, a fun outdoor painting activity could appeal to both toddlers and adults.
- Provide year-round opportunities: To keep interest levels high all year, plan activities for every season. If you have an indoor gathering space, use that for winter activities to keep everyone out of the cold. Try water-based activities for the summer as a relief from the heat. Either way, make sure to provide opportunities for varying age levels at different points in the year.
- Keep a variety: Another thing to remember is to maintain a variety of programs. Having a busy calendar with many different options keeps your park exciting. It also widens the park’s appeal to more people. If you discover some events are popular with the public, you can keep those on your annual schedule. Then, try adding in a few new ideas each season or year. It will keep your park fresh and appealing to everyone.
Add Age-Inclusive Features to Your Existing Park
Another way to make your existing park more age-inclusive is by implementing more comprehensive park features. These will help patrons feel recognized by the park and give them more opportunities to enjoy themselves.
Some examples of age-inclusive features you can add include:
- Places to rest: Everyone that visits your park has a different ability level, and some visitors need a rest after physical activity, whether young or old. If you only have a few resting areas, try adding more seating opportunities in easily accessible spots. Consider adding picnic tables or comfortable chairs that would suit people of various abilities, sizes, and ages.
- Age-Inclusive playgrounds: One way to revitalize a public park is by adding playground equipment. This installment adds a fun atmosphere, allowing kids to play freely. Or, if you already have playground equipment, consider what ages it suits best. Could toddlers or middle-schoolers play on the equipment, or does it only appeal to elementary-aged kids? If you find that all kids can’t play on the playground, try adding more equipment that appeals directly to the other age groups.
- Walking paths: Walking is a relaxing and healthy activity that many park visitors can enjoy. Try implementing walking trails and paths to your park if you don’t already have some. Use smooth path materials and wide pathways to help with accessibility.
Tips for Creating a New Park for All Ages
If you want to design an entirely new, age-inclusive park, there are many ways you can get started. Developing a new park is a big undertaking, but the finished project will bring joy to many residents. With the right plan, you can make your park welcoming to different members of your community.
These are some tips for creating a park for all ages.
Get Creative About Locations
The first step to creating a new park is picking your location. You want an area near many residents, such as close to downtown or a cluster of neighborhoods. That way, more residents of various ages have access to the park.
When selecting a location, you should also think about:
- Appealing to everyone who passes: As a new public area, you want to draw in as many people as possible. Think about a place that’s noticeable to many people as they go about their day. Maybe it’s a spot by a typical commuting road or a popular shopping area. Then, get creative about what you can add to make the park attractive. Try choosing eye-catching colors or planning beautiful landscapes that will attract visitors.
- Considering what residents would want to see: One of the best ways to select a location is by putting yourself in the residents’ shoes. Where would they want to see a park, and how can you make that happen? Is the location you’re considering big enough that many people could enjoy it at once? Does it have space for a playground or exercise equipment? Is it accessible by sidewalk or public transportation? Consider these and other questions, then think about which location meets these requirements.
Design for All Ages
Next, you should begin thinking about how you will implement age inclusivity in your new park. Because this is an entirely new park, you can design age-inclusive aspects from the beginning. This gives you more freedom to implement structures and areas for every age in your design.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you design for all ages:
- Comfortability: Parks are great places to play and have fun, but they should also be comfortable when visitors need to rest or relax. Comfortability might take on different meanings depending on age levels. For instance, a seat for a kindergartener is likely not comfortable for an adult. You can also add shaded areas in the park or food and beverage options. Make sure to plan for features that accommodate different ages and comfort levels.
- Skill levels: When planning for age inclusivity, you should also consider skill level. Age is not necessarily an indicator of equal ability. One adult might be able to walk the park’s length with ease, while another might find it difficult. Or one child might swing easily across monkey bars when another kid doesn’t have that same ability. Try planning for areas that accommodate multiple skill levels. This might look like walking trails of varying sizes or playground equipment with different levels of challenge. That way, multiple users feel involved in the park’s fun.
How to Bring Your Age-Inclusive Park to Life
Once you have a plan for upgrading a current park or creating a new one, it’s time to take action. Following concrete steps will allow you to bring your envisioned park to life. Four initial steps to start building your age-inclusive park include:
- Survey the community: Get the community involved in your park from the beginning by surveying them. Inform the community that a new park is in the works and open a forum for ideas and insights. Provide surveys for different age groups to try and represent everyone. Once you gather answers, do your best to implement the ideas. Residents will feel more connected to the park if their contributions are realized, and they’ll feel more seen and appreciated by the community.
- Finalize the best location: After hearing the community’s desires for the park, use their ideas to finalize a park location. If they wanted large structures, like huge playgrounds or walking trails, limit your location search to expansive plots. Also, remember to select the location that’s accessible to most residents, either by public transportation or the sidewalk.
- Organize funding: Your park’s budget is crucial for its success. Before purchasing equipment and reserving locations, it’s best to set a clear budget. Typically, parks receive funding from government grants, sponsorships, and community fundraisers. These events might take months, so you should get started as soon as you can. You could also organize your own fundraisers or partner with local businesses to get more funding. Getting the community involved is a great way to spark excitement about the upcoming park.
- Design for all ages: Once you finalize a budget and a location, you can start your park’s design. Try mapping out a sketch of your park, from walking paths to seating opportunities. If you plan to plant additional trees or other plants, mark those on your drawing. Then, you can start purchasing equipment and the other items on your wish list.
Other Tips to Ensure Your Park Will Entertain All Ages
There are many additional ways to make your park appeal to different ages. Aside from typical features like playgrounds and trails, you can implement other fun features to keep the park exciting and age-inclusive. Here’s what to add to a park to entertain all ages:
- Pet areas: People of all ages adore their pets, and parks are great places for pets to enjoy the fresh air alongside their owners. Some parks even have special play equipment for dogs or other specific animals so they can play freely and enjoy themselves. Consider adding a designated pet area for your park where everyone can play with and meet other pets.
- Water spray parks: Water spray parks are a big hit with kids, especially in the hot summer months. Think about installing a spray area where kids can play in sprinklers and small pools, giving them an exciting sense of summer fun. You can also make the spray park open for both kids and families so different ages can get in on the action.
- Sports fields and seating: One activity that excites people of all ages is sports. Whether you sponsor local teams or provide kiddie leagues with a place to play their seasonal games, sports areas add excitement to any park. You could plan for an all-purpose sports area. Or, if you have a particular sport in mind, like baseball or basketball, design a site just for that. Be sure to add seating arrangements, too.
- Bike paths: Biking is an age-inclusive and fun physical activity. If you add bike paths to your park, it could be a great way to get entire families to visit and bike together. The trails might encourage other biking enthusiasts from within your community and outside of it to drop by.
- Obstacle courses: If you want a creative way to make your park more exciting, try adding an obstacle course. These challenging and fun structures give varying ages a way to get outside and have fun.
Build an Age-Inclusive Park With Little Tikes Commercial Playground Equipment
At Little Tikes Commercial, we pride ourselves on offering high-quality playground equipment for different ages. Whether you’re just starting to plan a new park or want to add to your current one, we have many options. Playground equipment at parks creates play opportunities for children of different ages, whether a toddler or an 11-year-old. By providing a variety of equipment, you give kids at your park a way to feel seen and excited.
Here are some examples of Little Tikes Commercial equipment that can perfectly fit your age-inclusive park.
Sensory Play Equipment
Sensory playground equipment is an excellent option for kids of various ages. Children develop their five senses as they continue to grow — seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting. By providing sensory play equipment in your park, you give kids of varying ages an opportunity to become more connected with some of their senses.
You could add sensory stations onto a playground or create smaller sensory setups around the park. As the kids play with the equipment, they’ll engage their curiosity, develop fine motor skills, and increase creativity.
We have many options for sensory play equipment, such as:
- Sound: Kids of various ages can develop their listening skills with interactive musical equipment. Vibes from the Concerto™ line gives children a way to express creativity and learn musical sounds while in the park. Like a traditional xylophone, they can use the mallets to create sounds of different pitches. The best part is that kids of different ages can use Vibes and share their musical discoveries.
- Touch: Play also gives kids a way to develop their sense of touch. They can understand different textures and tactile experiences through their public park. A slide is one piece of playground equipment that refines your sense of touch. Many of us can recall sliding down a slide and how it felt to our hands and bodies. The Colossus Slide is perfect for ages 2-12, with multiple slide beds and sliding paths. Kids can change the slide path each time for a new tactile experience.
- Sight: Playgrounds provide an excellent opportunity to develop visual skills. With their vibrant colors and exciting play structures, kids can explore new sights from every angle. Some pieces of play equipment make visual exploration even more fun, like the Bubble Mirror Panel. Kids can view their own reflection and watch as it changes when they move positions.
By providing comfortable seating and rest areas, you can make your park more age inclusive. Parkgoers of varying ages can relax, chat with friends or have a bite to eat on your park’s seating arrangements. Your park can become more inviting and calming for different visitors.
Little Tikes Commercial carries a variety of park amenities, such as picnic tables, benches, and bike racks. These options can make your park into a comfortable and age-inclusive space.
Fitness equipment also provides the opportunity to engage older ages at your park. Create a separate area for physical exercise equipment, and encourage adults and teenagers to get involved. They can get in their exercise for the day while enjoying the fresh air and their friends’ company.
Little Tikes Commercial’s fitness equipment, best suited for ages 14 to adult, can add fun and exciting exercise methods to your park. Adults and older kids can hop on and get their exercise fill for the day. We offer equipment for many body parts, no matter your visitors’ exercise goals. Whether parkgoers want to work their abs or build their upper body strength, Little Tikes Commercial has many offerings for the fitness area of your park.
Request a Quote for Age-Inclusive Park Equipment
At Little Tikes Commercial, we’re dedicated to creating exciting and age-inclusive play spaces. We understand the importance of age inclusivity and work hard to provide you with the resources you need. Browse our extensive catalog and find the perfect addition to your age-inclusive park. When you find something you like, request a quote to get started!
For more information or questions about our products, find a local representative near you today.