Innovative Playground Design Responds To Tough Canadian Regulations

<p>Winnipeg is the first Canadian city to get an Evos climbing structure, which keeps kids challenged while satisfying strict Canadian safety regulations.</p>
October 11, 2007, 1pm PDT | Michael Dudley
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"Monkey bars, swings and slides are going the way of the dinosaur. A Winnipeg school is the first in Canada to witness the latest evolution of playground equipment: the Evos system -- a playground that looks like a geometry set, only it's more fun and more safe with no pointy compasses.

The new structure was the answer to the prayers of Canadian playground designers shackled by strict new Canadian Standards Association guidelines that came out in 1998.

Unlike traditional structures, there are no platforms in the Evos system for kids to stop and hang out on. And they have to keep thinking.

With more than one way to approach each component, Evos' design makes the kids think about how they're going to navigate the structure. Instead of a slide, there is the slalom glider that requires kids to use their muscles and balance to stay on. Some straddle it, others go side-saddle.

Swiggle stix are a kind of wiggly bridge of cables with footholds low to the ground. Wobble pods are low kidney-shaped benches on springs that are tricky to stand on. A hemisphere climber -- known to "P-J" kids as the "spider web" -- makes them think about how they're going to get around on the arched, mesh apparatus.

The gyro spinner is a dizzy kid's dream. Using their body weight, muscles and momentum, they stand on the slanted poles and spin themselves silly.

For kids with special needs, wheelchair pads invite them to wheel up to a chatter noodle and send a message to a kid at the other end of the underground via the underground voice tube. An assistant can help them get out of their wheelchair to sit on the side of the see-saw with a special seat with added support, and teeter-totter with a school mate.

There are no obstructed views, making it easier for adults to keep an eye on kids. The joints have a special moulding covering them, so there are no bolts that can be tampered with or that can catch a kid's scarf and choke them. The concrete footings are buried well below the pea-gravel surface.

Four more Evos systems are in the works [for Winnipeg] this year."

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Published on Wednesday, October 10, 2007 in The Winnipeg Free Press
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