Wherever children gather to play—at a school, park, church, or community center—you are likely to find them squealing with delight while using the playground equipment. Playgrounds aren’t just a great way to keep kids entertained, they are also extremely beneficial for their emotional and physical development.
Unlike a more structured game or play environment, playground equipment provides the opportunity for free play. Free play is the most beneficial type of play for children as it allows them to explore and to learn from those around them. It is an opportunity to bond with others and develop their learning abilities.
Playground equipment also encourages children to be more physically active at an important stage of their lives. Physical activity helps improve children’s self esteem, reduce anxiety and stress, and control weight. Playgrounds offer an ideal environment for children to be active.
The cost of playground equipment may seem overwhelming at first, but by seeing how to budget for it and which resources to tap, your community or organization can find a way to fund this important investment.
Average Cost of Playground Equipment
Your playground budget will ultimately be determined by how many children will be using the playground equipment. In general, you should budget about $1,000 per child. The average cost of playground equipment is between $8,000 and $50,000. For larger, higher-end structures, the cost can soar to as high as $50,000–$150,000.
Breakdown of the Costs
The equipment itself is the biggest line item when purchasing playground equipment. It will likely take up about 60 percent of the total cost.
Equipment installation is the second most expensive part of the cost of playground equipment, consisting of around 25–40 percent of the budget. However, this cost can be reduced by doing a self-installation or community build.
The majority of the rest of your budget will go toward preparing the playground site. This includes things like the borders, surfacing, irrigation, and drainage.
Freight and Taxes
The final cost is taxes and shipping, which will take up about 5 percent of the budget.
Paying for Playground Equipment
Schools often have tight budgets, but if they can donate any money to the playground, it can be a good start. See if the school could match donations or make a small contribution.
If you have an active PTA, put them in charge of fundraising and finding other areas to cut costs.
There are numerous grants that can help fund playground equipment. You can research some grant opportunities here.
Many schools have found success crowdfunding for their playground equipment online. There are many websites available that allow you to easily set up and share your crowdfunding campaign.
Individuals or businesses may be willing to donate money to help pay for the new equipment. Consider offering to memorialize them with a plaque, bench, or some signage with their name or company on it.
An Investment That Pays for Itself
Commercial playground equipment can be a big investment, but given time, it will pay for itself by promoting healthy emotional and physical activities for children. With unstructured play, kids have the freedom to learn, socialize, and be active as they choose. Playing is an important part of growing up, and playground equipment has a role in that.
Whether you’re installing equipment, preparing the site, or covering other costs involved with setting equipment up, remember that a number of good resources are available to help with funding.