Most slides are reachable by ladder. Why not a climbing net? Or a small tree?

These are the types of questions Dirk Schelhorn, a renowned landscape architect and playground expert in Germany, asks himself. Schelhorn serves as an advisor to the Fanta Playground initiative, which has reconstructed 20 playgrounds throughout Germany. The mission of the program, which kicks off its second phase over the next few weeks, is to design playgrounds where children can play safely – and have fun at the same time.

Fanta launched the initiative in 2012 with the German Children's Fund (DKHW) and TÜV Rhineland after discovering significant defects in the nation’s play spaces. A “best in class” playground was built in Bochum to showcase how a playground can stimulate children to play creatively. The playground combines traditional features like slides and swings with natural, cost-efficient elements such as water for splashing about, stones for building and hills to roll down.

Online Voting

As in years past, local authorities and playground supporters can apply for financial assistance. Online voting will determine 100 total winners. The first 20 will receive EUR5,000 each, and the remaining playgrounds each will receive EUR1,000 for renovations or a playground module. Vote for a playground in your neighborhood.

Expertise Ensures Quality

TÜV Rheinland and the German Children's Fund support the playground renovations. In addition to Schelhorn, Professor Dr. Klaus Fischer – a physical education researcher at the University of Cologne – is involved with the program.

"Through physical activity, children intuitively learn to know and understand things which help them through school and other activities," Dr. Fischer said. “It is important for children to have options beyond swings and slides… playgrounds should be designed as diversely as possible to stimulate all of the child’s senses.”

Schelhorn gives children of all ages the opportunity to help shape their own playground. According to the landscape architect, playgrounds require a modern, integrated and unique approach.        

Play Paradise in Bochum

The Fanta Playground Initiative’s 2,000-square-meter playground in Bochum is designed to allow children to play creatively and experiment. A water tapping area is the main attraction. In addition to a redesigned slide and swing, the children explore, hidden in a small forest, a path of wooden balance and moveable surfaces. The area is divided by shrubs, willow tunnels and hills that provide privacy, protection and comfort.