Oregon Natural Play Initiative

 The Oregon Natural Play initiative is a new group forming in Oregon with goals to;
  1. Support and promote natural play in Oregon.
  2. Develop products that are regionally accepted by building a tool kit for natural play in Oregon.
  3. Establish a core group that will commit to 12 monthly meetings and development of a mutually beneficial product.

The Core Group: This group is still forming. The following people have committed to 12 months of monthly meetings and development of the Oregon Standards for Natural Play.

  1. Mark Davison – OPRD Planning
  2. Jerry Burgess – THPRD
  3. Michelle Mathis – GreenWorks
  4. Anita Vanaspert – Land Current
  5. Rod Wojtanik – Metro
  6. Bruce Barbarash – THPRD
  7. Ken Kutska – Certified Playground Safety Inspector Trainer CPSC/ASTM

Current Focus Product 2011-2012:
Oregon Standards for Natural Play
Develop a set of standards for natural play in Oregon that will serve as regionally accepted principles. We anticipate the standards to address topics such as safety, risk, materials, and maintenance focused on natural playground and learning areas. We see the standards being used by people who want to build, create, or analyze a natural learning area.

The Tool Kit and Future Products:
The tool kit holds other ideas and approaches that ONPI Members think are important but are not currently selected for the focus product. These items may be future focus products. Partners will be encouraged to continue their work on any topic that relates to the concepts in the tool kit. Three times a year partners will be invited to a meeting with the core group to discuss their ideas and progress.

1        Simple Statement and Partner Development:
Formulate a simple goals statement and start building a wide partner base that will support these goals. We understand that we will need to formulate a simple statement early in the process no matter what the product will be the first year. Partners will be steered toward the toolkit items for adding their expertise.

2        Study the Benefits of Natural Play:
We believe that natural play benefits a child in many ways including; physical, developmental, and social. This product is a collection of appropriate studies with analysis on their combined results and identification of holes in the existing research. We may formulate a study to fill current holes in data.

3        Develop 5 to 10 Standard Natural Play Pieces:
Develop a short list of natural play elements that are fully explained, meet safety standards, are educational, and are low risk. We will provide photos, details, materials lists and information to support construction of these elements across the state. These standard pieces can be implemented regionally without intensive planning or cost.

4        Develop a Support Mechanism For Natural Play By Building 5 Play Areas:
The group would focus on identifying projects, finding funding and materials and working with qualified designers and installers to develop 5 natural play areas. The projects would range in size, location, and target users. Follow up studies would be done to review use of the play area, injuries, and maintenance.

5        A Series of Natural Play White Papers:
As a group we would use our specific and collective knowledge to develop a series of white papers. Papers may focus on safety and risk in natural play areas. White papers would be reviewed by the core group or advisory members and be published regularly to a central location for public use.

6        Existing Play Area Studies:
Collect information on existing play areas such as activities offered, how the space is used, materials used for construction, maintenance needs, learning outcomes, risk, management history, accident log, and photos. This collection of case studies and information would serve as a strong basis for new designs and risk assessment as well as providing a database for Oregonians to reference and visit.

I will continue to post updates here. Please let me know if you have questions or would like more information. Michelle Mathis

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