Thursday, July 18, 2024
Happening Now

Cookeville Company Celebrates 12 Years Of Playgrounds

As Algood’s Hope Church celebrated the opening of its new playground Tuesday, Cookeville-based Recreational Concepts celebrated twelve years of bringing smiles to children across the state.

Co-Founder Shelia Stewart said playgrounds still appeal to children of all ages because the amount of different attractions they can offer has increased over time. She said one of their goals when designing a playground is to be as inclusive as possible to all children regardless of their abilities.

“There’s so many parents that’ll say, ‘Well, we don’t need an inclusive playground, our students are able-bodied,'” Stewart said. “Well they’re not thinking about, well we never have anybody that’s on a wheelchair on our playground. Well you know why? You don’t offer anything for them, and that’s what we’re trying to do is make sure there is something for everyone.”

Stewart said they do a lot of research into the needs and levels of play in the surrounding community when designing a playground, including for this latest project at Hope Church.

“The playground is from ages five to twelve, so it accommodates a variety of ages and abilities at that point,” Stewart said. “And that’s one of the things that is probably the thing we love most, is focusing on that so that it is multi-generational. The grandparents come out, the teenagers come out, it offers a little something for everybody.”

Co-Founder Dan Stewart said the biggest change he has seen to playground design in the past ten to fifteen years has been an increase in the amount of inclusive design. He said Recreational Concepts has allowed them to give back to the children and communities around them.

“We both came out of the corporate world, and as I’m sure most people know, if you’re in the corporate world it’s all about shareholder value,” Dan Stewart said. “Well this is about value for children and the families and the communities we serve, and that’s why we love doing it so much.”

Dan Stewart said they use a ratio high items to low items when creating a playground to ensure all children have the opportunity to play.

“Every spin, every swing, every touch component is what makes up the playground,” Shelia Stewart said. “And people don’t think about that, so it’s the details.”

Dan Stewart said that autism is the number one issue in the nation when it comes to proper inclusivity.

“When you have an autistic child they need time-out spots, places to go where they can sit down, cool off, and get out of the noise all around them,” Dan said. “And that’s, again, that’s one of the things we look at is what’s required from something that many people think, ‘Well, autism’s simple,’ it’s really not so simple, all the way to a child who is using a mobility assistance device and how can they play on some of the components? Even though they might not be able to get up on a tower, they can still play on ground-level components.”