Mara Kaplan founded Let Kids Play!, an inclusive play design consulting firm, in 2007. Let Kids Play! works with playground manufacturers, park districts, parents, communities, and nonprofit organizations to design play spaces for all children regardless of age or ability.1
With an elementary education degree from Indiana University and as a mother of a child with a profound disability, Mara had previously joined with four other moms of children with disabilities to form the Center for Creative Play in 1995.2 Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and with Mara as CEO, the Center built and operated a 5,000 square foot play center for children of all abilities. Later this play center was expanded to 15,000 square feet and included a playhouse, treehouse, pretend play areas, art room, block room, music room, computer lab, and gross motor areas such as a ball pool.3
The Center for Creative Play, after assisting other communities to build similar play centers, closed in 2007.4 By forming Let Kids Play!, Mara shifted her focus to consulting with those designing play spaces and play equipment as well as those marketing toys. Let Kids Play! also offers workshops on a variety of topics, such as universal design, nature playgrounds, unstructured play, and designing fully accessible playgrounds.5
In 2010, Let Kids Play! partnered with Playworld Systems to assess Playworld's existing products concerning play value for children with disabilities. They also began assisting Playworld's engineers to optimize future designs of play equipment for children of all abilities.
Let Kids Play! organized Playworld's and KaBOOM!'s research project, Play Day!, held in 2010. Families with children with disabilities were invited to play at a fully-accessible playground and give feedback, which was used to shape future playground designs.6
- 1. “Founder, Inclusive Play Advocate Mara Kaplan to Contribute to Product Research and Development.” Product Design & Development. < http://pddnet.com/news-ap-founder-inclusive-play-advocate-mara-kaplan-to-co-091610/ > 7 July 2011.
- 2. “Playmaker of the Month: Mara Kaplan.” KaBOOM! < http://kaboom.org/take_action/playmaker_network/playmaker_month/mara_kaplan > 11 July 2011.
- 3. “Guest: Mara Kaplan.” “Disability Matters” by Joyce Bender. < www.benderconsult.com/radiocaption/040604VA.html > 24 July 2011.
- 4. “Mara's Story.” Accessible Playgrounds. < http://www.accessibleplayground.net/?page_id=203 > 7 July 2011.
- 5. “Our Services.” Let Kids Play. < http://www.letkidsplay.com/services.html > 7 July 2011.
- 6. Op.cit., “Founder, Inclusive Play Advocate.”