Rethinking Play for Diverse Voices and Needs


A play environment provides the opportunity to tell a story, a story that can inform the design of a space, and both can have catalytic effects on the surrounding community. This panel will explore the art of storytelling as a powerful design medium and examine how history, culture, art, and nature can be effective springboards for incorporating shared community vision in park design. It will also highlight how redeveloping aging play infrastructure and nature-inspired water play features can spur community driven redevelopment projects that address safety, health, and longstanding equity issues.


  • Learn how pilot projects and evaluation methodologies are used to demonstrate demand and generate community support for public space investments that deliver more equity
  • Rethink engagement approaches that celebrate neighborhood culture while building a sense of community among multiple generations
  • Gain an understanding of a private-public partnership model that leverages federal funding for inclusive public space efforts
  • Recognize the vital role of storytelling as the driving creative force behind powerful community-first play space designs
  • Identify the challenges of addressing issues of representation, cultural sensitivity, and appropriation in partnership with indigenous communities


Jen De Melo

Senior Strategist of Organization Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, KABOOM!

Brandi Peacher

Director of Project Management, Office of the Mayor, City of Lexington, KY

Nathan Schleicher

Playground Designer, Earthscape Play, Inc.