Industry Trend Increasing Participation in Parks

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Parks adding linear play to draw families, encourage health participation, and teach environmental awareness

Although park trails exist in city, suburb, and open country, it appears that only a small minority of children and families are actually using them. In order to find a solution to this problem, GameTime, a manufacturer of recreation equipment collaborated with a network of experts from the American Trails group to create Play Trails. Play Trail sites in Chattanooga, TN and Springfield, MO have already been drawing more families since they were built last year, and as word of mouth spreads, these parks are becoming destinations for recreation, adding social capital to the community.

Play Trails is a revolutionary phenomenon that links pockets of play elements in a linear pattern along or within a trail system. Each Play Pocket is themed with interactive nature inspired exhibits that get the entire family involved, and features a sign that teaches fun facts about the subject’s contributions to nature, and features fun activities for the family. (Did you know that an ant can carry 20 times its own body weight or that a hummingbird is the only bird capable of flying backwards and sideways?) This breakthrough in play environments creates parent/child interaction in the play pockets and along the trail between one pocket and the next.

Launching with Play Trails and based on research by the Natural Learning Initiative, College of Design, NC State University in collaboration with PlayCore, Pathways for Play is a guidebook that can answer questions trail owners may have about how to best implement a Play Trail, along with site specific design considerations, benefits of playful pathways and implementation guidelines for trail and pathway owners who want to attract families to their facility. Request a free copy at info (at) playcore (dot) com and visit to see how PlayTrails is bringing outdoor family fun to communities throughout the US.


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Anne-Marie Spencer

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