Playground of Distinction (POD) Program

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Playground of Distinction (POD) Program

A great playground has the potential to be life changing for a community. It can be simultaneously beautiful and innovative, useful and creative, designed to solve a problem, make life easier or simply spread joy through play.

The Playcraft Systems Playground of Distinction Program is a non-competitive awards program that seeks to recognize innovative play space design within a community. Playgrounds of Distinction show a dedication to vibrant communities through a rigorous community engagement, design response, and active play space implementation in the following categories:

  • Exceptional Design for Dynamic Play
  • Exceptional Design for Inclusive Play
  • Exceptional Design for Intergenerational Play
  • Exceptional Design for Imaginative Play

Dynamic Play

Establishing an active lifestyle in young children early is important to community health. Dynamic play has proven to develop core muscles, balance and cardio strength. We aim to recognize organizations who want to make a substantial contribution in the promotion of and accessibility to play. A POD Dynamic playground will use best practices that provide physical development opportunities, create learning activities and promote energetic movement.


Inclusive Play

At Playcraft Systems, we firmly follow our belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to play, as the element of play strengthens the bond of a community. A POD Inclusive playground will use best practices that exceed ADA standards and promote equitable play for children of all ages and abilities.

Our network of consultants and design team will work with you to create the ideal playground. To ensure a balance of play opportunities we follow these key inclusive strategies:


Intergenerational Play

There is clear evidence that play is important for us all, whatever our age. Interactive play between adults and children is even more mutually beneficial. Playgrounds are about creating a lasting play space that will remain for generations, inspiring people and enriching their lives. A POD Intergenerational playground will use best practices that foster engagement in the element of play between adults and children of all ages.


Imaginative Play

Exceptional playground design is about much more than simply making playgrounds look more stylish and attractive. It is about fulfilling the true potential of a play space and enhancing the community experience. Imaginative play has an important role in the development of language, critical thinking, physical, social and emotional skills. A POD Imaginative playground will use best practices that incorporate theme play and promote a child’s imagination and creativity.

Playground of Distinction Benefits

Individual awards ripple out and impact your entire community. More people see what your organization values. More people get excited about your recognition efforts. More people are inspired by your Playground of Distinction and are motivated to live a healthy lifestyle.

The Playground of Distinction Award provides multiple opportunities for winners beyond recognition including:

  • Complimentary signage installed at your site announcing your community’s Playground of Distinction.
  • Special designation on the Playcraft Playground Map.
  • Marketing resources to build community buy-in and garner continuing support.
  • Exposure on Playcraft’s Playgrounds of Distinction web gallery.
  • Playcraft Playground of Distinction Award certificate.
  • Opportunity to be featured in future Playcraft marketing materials.
  • Opportunity to provide customer testimonial video highlighting your project.

Projects designated as a Playground of Distinction will have the opportunity to be nominated for a Best in Class award. Recipients of a Best in Class award may be invited to a biennial thought leadership retreat. Playgrounds will be evaluated for the following areas:

  • Best use of community involvement in planning and design
  • Best use of community engagement post installation
  • Best use of programming

Contact your local consultant to help you with Playground of Distinction eligibility for your upcoming project.

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Moonlight Beach Playground – Encinitas, CA

The City of Encinitas is not only receiving a new playground, but one that has been recognized as a Playground of Distinction by Playcraft Systems. This newly launched program recognizes communities and leaders who build playground spaces that encourages physical activity, imagination, intergenerational play, and/or inclusion.

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Funland Playground - Hermiston, OR

Funland Playground received the Exceptional Design for Imaginative Play recognition due to the playful design that incorporates theme play and promotes a child’s imagination and creativity.

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South Inglewood Park - Nashville, TN

South Inglewood Park received the Exceptional Design for Dynamic Play recognition due to the playful design that focuses on providing physical activity, creating learning activities and promoting energetic movement. This playground seamlessly integrates fundamental principles of physical play – cardio, upper body, balance, climbing, energetic and continuous movement.

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Pamperin Park - Green Bay, WI

After 23 years, Pamperin Park revamped its playground into one of the area's largest, emphasizing accessibility and natural preservation. With features like a 14 ft tower, inclusive merry-go-round, zipline, dragon rider, and large swing bay, it caters to all, reflecting Playcraft's commitment to inclusive family spaces

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Hayswood Nature Reserve - Corydon, IN

In a historic achievement, Possibilities Playground earns all four Playground of Distinction awards, a milestone for Playcraft Systems. Spanning 32,000 square feet within the serene Hayswood Nature Reserve, this playground redefines excellence with inclusive, dynamic, and imaginative play experiences, showcasing innovation and community spirit amidst breathtaking natural scenery.

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Tom Pearce Park - Grants Pass, OR

The newly opened Tom Pearce Park is a vibrant addition to the community, designed with inclusivity and natural beauty at its core. Central to the park is an expansive inclusive playground, equipped with a sensory-rich play structure, wheelchair-accessible equipment, and soft, safe surfaces to ensure all children can play together.