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Certification Class was No Picnic

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Certification Class was No Picnic




I recently took part in a certification class sponsored by the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) at The Blue Chip Hotel and Casino in beautiful Michigan City, IN.  I don’t say “beautiful” in jest as the lakefront is indeed a sight to behold; in summer.  Of course my class took place in early January.  At least the casino was warm.


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But I digress, I was in scenic Michigan City to take part in a course that certifies people to become Playground Safety Inspectors, once certified you are known as a CPSI.  The name – Playground Safety Inspector – almost sounds comical, I know, but I assure you it is anything but.  I know, we all played on scalding hot metal monkey bars placed over asphalt and we survived. Breaking an arm, stitches, dislocations were all a part of the game for us 60’s, 70’s and 80’s kids. However, what I learned was that the safety standards and guidelines are not there to keep kids from taking risks or getting hurt they are there to prevent the worst of the worst from happening. Deaths, dismemberments, and permanent disabilities do occur and for that reason safety is important. And although the monkey bars might not look the same, the inherent risk and challenge is still there. Another important aspect regarding safety inspections involves the litigious nature of our society.  The standards help agencies, municipalities and school districts develop a program of preventative maintenance and a way to identify and prioritize hazards that could lead to accidents. Thus, minimizing their exposure to risk.



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As a landscape architect I use what I learned in the class in my designs. Use zones of play equipment, accessible surfacing, age appropriate equipment, layout of a play area to ensure an accessible route are all a part of the CPSI class and important to how a landscape architect views the world of play. But ultimately what I would love to do with this certification is to use it to help our clients develop their awareness of the playgrounds for which they are responsible. Performing an audit of their existing playgrounds to determine compliance/non-compliance with the standards and guidelines and then prioritizing the non-compliant issues into a plan of attack that helps minimize their exposure to liability and risk. 


  • Guest
    Joe Monday, 19 January 2015

    Safety is an important step. Keep making playgrounds safe for our kids.

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Guest Tuesday, 17 July 2018

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