Monday, July 16, 2012

Senior Playgrounds

I recently visited  a lot of Manhattan Public Parks and Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) that offer  no activities for seniors except sitting on a bench. Here's some ideas how to create spaces that allow more to occur...


Playground in Springfield Township opens for seniors

By Kathy Antoniotti
Beacon Journal staff writer

Exercise stations wait to be put into use at the new senior playground on the shores of Springfield Lake in Springfield Twp., Ohio. The site may possibly be the first of its kind in the U.S. (Ed Suba Jr./Akron Beacon Journal)
SPRINGFIELD TWP.: If you build it, they will come — especially if it is designed for fun.
That’s the premise Bobby Dinkins, director of the Boyd Esler Senior and Community Center, used when he launched the plan to get an adult playground built on the edge of Springfield Lake.
The playground, in the planning stages for more than a year, opened with much fanfare Thursday.
The eight pieces of low-impact athletic equipment designed especially for older adults is believed to be only the second of its kind in the country, Dinkins said. He has been told the only other playground in the U.S dedicated to seniors is located in Arizona.
He is certain it is the first built in Ohio.
“In 2010, I started looking for more activities for seniors and Googled ‘playgrounds,’ ” Dinkins said Thursday. The only ones he could find online are in several European countries.
Dinkins took his proposal to Summit County Councilwoman Paula Prentice, who suggested he look into obtaining a Community Block Development Grant to finance the playground. She put him in touch with several people who were willing to help with the application.
“I heard that it takes a village to raise a kid, but I found out very quickly that it takes a village to apply for a CBD Grant,” Dinkins said to laughter from the crowd, made up of seniors, township trustees and several county officeholders.
In October, the township learned it was awarded $33,500 to buy the equipment and have it erected.
On Thursday, several adults from the senior center tried out the new line of equipment from KOMPAN Inc. of Tacoma, Wash., as the Goodyear blimp cruised overhead in blue sky.
Usually, the senior center members get together for card games — pinochle on Mondays and euchre on Fridays, said Brenda Turner, 71, and Wanda Lee, 73, who waited for their turns to try out a machine they thought would help them trim their waistlines.
“After sitting for a few hours [playing cards], it will be fun to come out here,” Lee said.
Bill Croghan was climbing on a pedal machine when he reminded the women what is on the menu for today’s card game.
“Don’t forget. We’re having pizza this Friday,” he said.
“Then we can come down here and work it off,” Lee shot back at him.
County Councilwoman Sandra Kurt said the playground would give seniors another reason to come out and enjoy each other’s company while having fun in the process.
“Interacting socially with others benefits the mind, which is vital to a healthy aging process, and lowers the need for medical services,” Kurt said.
County Executive Russ Pry congratulated Dinkins and township officials on the acquisition of the playground.
“This will really make a big difference in the lives of the seniors in this area,” Pry said.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or



 Hyde Park Senior Playground


9am-9pm - April to September
10am-4pm - October to March
A FREE outdoor playground is now open in Hyde Park.
The new facility includes six pieces of exercise equipment to help users improve core strength, flexibility and balance. Equipment has been selected to ensure that a high level of accessibility, ease of use and enjoyment can be ensured for all users.
The playground has been especially designed for older people to enjoy and is not suitable for use by people under the age of 15 years.
It is located within the Hyde Park Bowls and Tennis Centre enclosure.
Hyde Park Senior Playground


During 2008/09 The Royal Parks was approached by the Knightsbridge Association to provide an Older People's Play Area in Hyde Park, funded by Westminster City Council's neighbourhood budget scheme for Knightsbridge and Belgravia via residents and the Knightsbridge Association.
The Royal Parks then commissioned a feasibility study to explore the idea further and consulted with a number of local and special interest groups.
Similar projects have been successfully installed at Dam Head Park (Manchester), Heathfield Recreation Ground (Whitton) and Hampton Common (Richmond).



(Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP) Pensioners Winston Fletcher, right, and Frances Blois enjoy equipment in London's first playground designed for seniors in Hyde Park, London. The outdoor facility features keep-fit equipment to help adults in their later years to keep fit and improve strength and flexibility



Playgrounds for seniors go worldwide

 (NaturalNews) Last spring the UK made news by opening the first senior playground in London's Hyde Park. The new Hyde Park playground has six pieces of equipment including a stationary bicycle, a cross-trainer and a sit-up bench. Since then new playgrounds have sprung up on four continents.

When they exercise outdoors, seniors say, they laugh. That's the first thing that happens. They socialize and swap recipes. They benefit from stronger bodies, the chance to meet others, and, especially, the laughter.

In 2008, the first playground for people over 60 was opened in Dam Head Park, Manchester, United Kingdom. The park featured low impact exercise equipment designed to help older people improve their balance and flexibility. Seniors often do not use gyms because they can't afford the fees or they do not feel comfortable. They don't like having to adjust the machines, and they might find the surround sound music, with young people vigorously pumping iron, intimidating.

But exercise is important for seniors. Active seniors are more likely to remain independent. Exercise promotes good balance and flexibility and reduces overall health problems.

The new playground equipment, designed for seniors, can be used by a pair in tandem, or singly. Each piece has detailed instructions for use. They are easy to use and focus on cardiovascular exercise, core strength and balance.

Actually, the concept of senior playgrounds did not originate in the UK. China, Japan and Finland have long encouraged generational exercise. In Japan, which has some of the longest-lived people in the world, the city of Tokyo opened Nursing Care Prevention Parks in 2004 which featured work stations and colorful equipment such as jungle gyms, balance beams and stretch apparatus.

Such facilities also existed in the United States but were often located at senior centers or retirement communities rather than public parks. In the 70s, in the U.S. outdoor parks featured walks with exercise stations for anyone to use.

That concept was based on a perceived preference for walking. Now, however, the trend is toward working out. With the first wave of Boomers turning 64, and the cost of senior playgrounds comparing favorably with the cost of indoor equipment and facilities, an expansion of senior playgrounds is imminent in U.S. parks.

Learn more:

Column: Senior ‘playgrounds' an idea worth considering

January 25, 2011 9:00 pm  • 
Many countries around the world are building and utilizing playgrounds for the elderly.
With birthrates falling and the number of senior citizens rising, many of the unused playgrounds around the world are being revamped for seniors to use.
The Association of Physical Fitness and Promotional Guidance has stated that the needs are growing, and many countries have jumped on the bandwagon for these new playgrounds. The old playgrounds that are not used any longer by children are rebuilt to give seniors the opportunity to work on hips, legs and torsos, and even stations for pull-ups, push-ups, stretching exercises and pedaling. The low-impact stations will aid in recovery from surgeries and falls, as well as keep seniors fit.
Being outdoors is also a benefit for seniors, letting them gain fresh air and network with other seniors they may not otherwise visit. Many of these parks are under supervision by physical therapists or other physical trainers.
More than 15,000 pieces of workout equipment have been installed in Japan, and the number of seniors who utilize the playgrounds daily has doubled. Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany, to name a few, have begun this revamping in their parks for seniors to help them gain regular, gentle exercise for body maintenance and physical fitness.
In some cases, there is a heightened feeling of well-being after the exercise regimen is completed. One lady interviewed said that she stood up and walked straighter after the trip to her park. She went on to say that she tended to slouch or walk bent over at home.
If you do not have a senior park in your area, why not lobby your local officials to start one? There are all kinds of designs and things that can be incorporated, including balance beams just a few inches off the ground, pedaling cycles, exercise bars for chin-ups and pull-ups, walkways and other general exercise equipment that is considered low impact. There is even equipment available that can be used by someone in a wheelchair to build upper body strength.
Check your area for workout sites that are outdoors. The spring, summer and fall are excellent times to get out and walk, work out to a low-impact regimen and visit with others of the same age. There is no fee and plenty of opportunities to raise the quality of life for our senior citizens while they are outdoors gaining fresh air.
Wii games have done a wonderful thing in nursing homes to help seniors move again and loosen up tight muscles. It is time to take the action outside. We have a lovely bike path to use for walking and biking. Now we should lobby for these workout sites. Let's get going!
Rexlyn Nicole is a senior outreach case manager with CHELP. Call her at 422-9888




Playgrounds for seniors

November 10, 2007 at 11:27 pm | In cities, health, victoria | 1 Comment I previously heard of playgrounds for the elderly through various newspaper articles, but Tokyo-based Ping Magazine has a beautiful blog entry that includes many pictures, to give us an idea of what the gear actually looks like. Surf over to Playgrounds For The Elderly:Fit In An Aging Society.
Ping Magazine‘s entry includes not just pictures, but also a terrific interview with Mr. Karakawa of the Takao Corporation, which makes these playgrounds. Here are some excerpts of Karakawa’s answers, beginning with some background information:
In 2004, the Chiyoda Ward commissioned us to build an experimental model community centre to promote exercise for the elderly and decrease dependence on nursing care. The Chiyoda Ward had already started some programs conducted indoors, in which the elderly do light tactile exercise to prevent senility. However, they didn’t have any means for them to exercise outdoors, so they asked us to construct something to be used in a park.
We have been making what we call healthy playgrounds with an emphasis on exercise for decades. However, our new concept with this equipment is nursing care prevention playgrounds. We took our previous designs for equipment to help sit-ups and push-ups and modified them for light exercise especially for the elderly.
A year after our first project in Nishi-Kanda Park, we installed nursing care prevention gear at another park in the ward. At that time, professors from the nearby Tokyo National University of Fine Arts & Music and residence of Chiyoda Ward helped us with what colours for the equipment would suite best the park. They also advised on how to better name the equipment. As in our first project, we gave the gear English names, such as “stretch-step.” But this time we used simple Japanese names that the elderly can understand more easily .
Sounds like a win-win for the users and for the community as a whole.