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Infusing Play into Pathway Networks

  • Monday, 20 October 2014

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Pathways for Play: Innovative way to bring play into nature

There’s nothing like getting outdoors for a refreshing walk in nature to de-stress and improve your health, both physically and mentally. When communities offer natural environments such as parks, trails and other green spaces, people are more likely to walk and be physically active.

According to Active Healthy Kids Canada, the amount of children enjoying the benefits of walking is on the decline. When it comes to walking to school, studies found that while 58 per cent of parents walked to school when they were young, only 28 per cent of their children do so today.

PlayCore, whose mission is to advance play through research, programs and partnerships, has teamed up with the Natural Learning Initiative to offer Pathways for Play: Best Practices Guidelines to integrate play - critical for children's health - into walkable, bikeable, shared use community pathway networks infused with "play pockets”.

Pathways for Play is an educational resource to help communities plan, design, and promote playful pathways. By infusing play along trails or shared use paths, the hope is that it will engage and motivate children and families to get outdoors and get active together.

The term pathway covers all forms of infrastructure, including greenways, trails and sidewalks that are used by pedestrians and cyclists. The term play pocket covers all forms of spaces and facilities identifiable by children and caregivers as play environments integral to playful pathways. Play pockets vary in size and may contain a mix of natural, living, and manufactured elements located on and linked by playful pathways.

The Pathways for Play guidebook provides best practice guidelines for upgrading existing or designing new systems that:

  • Extend play value
  • Enable health promotion
  • Create family fun
  • Expand inclusion
  • Engage users with nature
  • Reinforce environmental literacy

When it comes to implementation, GameTime has it covered. Working closely with experts from the Natural Learning Initiative and the American Trails Association, GameTime offers Play Trails products, educational signage and activity programs for communities to incorporate “play pockets” along trails and pathway networks. See signage & Play Trails product examples below.

"Pathways for Play gives us new tools to ensure that children grow healthier in body and spirit,” said Pam Gluck, Executive Director of American Trails Association, as quoted in Pathways for Play.  “American Trails is honored to be a part of this project and to help introduce it to the trails world.”

NatureGrounds, the companion program to Pathways for Play, naturalizes playgrounds at parks and schools through site design, using existing topography while integrating natural landscapes with play equipment.

On the right Path? Contact a Play! Sales Associate to learn more about Pathways for Play and receive your COMPLIMENTARY guidebook. Our sales staff can help you implement these best practices to incorporate play into trails and pathway networks in your community. 

About PlayCore: PlayCore believes that play enriches lives and they are committed to enriching play and fitness for children, families and communities. PlayCore is the parent company of GameTime, North America's largest manufacturer of playground equipment and the renowned leader in play.

 bugs signPlay Trails products

Pathways guidebook





Marketing Communications Manager

Leah is putting pen to paper in her role as Marketing Communications Manager for both Crozier’s Landmark and Play! divisions. Her main responsibilities include leading marketing and communication efforts through strategic articles, website content and by enhancing engagement on various social media platforms. read more