Parents, get ready! Ninja warrior is back on our TVs for season 6 this week. If you’re like most Aussie families, you can expect a lot of doorway scaling, couch cushion jump-pads, and jerry-rigged obstacle courses in the back yard. Nothing gets their imagination going quite like ninja. It may seem like a challenge to keep them from breaking themselves and the furniture at times. While there are plenty of indoor ninja parks around to help channel their inner warrior, there is a shortage of properly designed outdoor ninja courses for the primary aged kids to take advantage of.
Unlike the teenage and adult age groups, there is a huge size variation in the 6–12-year age bracket. Let’s face it, a LOT of growing happens in this time, making it a huge challenge for equipment designers. Creating safe, durable, outdoor ninja equipment that can be comfortably used from 6-12 years, while still offering the essential ‘ninja’ experience? That’s a challenge in itself. It’s a challenge we have readily accepted here at Imagination Play.
The 6-12 age group is among the most engaged with the ninja phenomenon.
It’s a simple equation really, ninja is a perfect combination of fitness and fun. Kids simulating ninja style play are getting a wealth of obvious physical health benefits; Strength, balance, coordination, cardiovascular fitness to name a few.
So how can we help to encourage this positive engagement with physical activity?
By making ninja more accessible to this age group in schools and parks.
Ninja has the potential to teach kids some powerful life lessons.
In a structured ninja course environment lead by teachers or parents, kids gain vital social and emotional skills.
Just like their onscreen heroes, they can scream encouragement to their friends from the sidelines. They can set themselves a goal and work towards achieving it over time.
They can fail spectacularly and find the resilience to try again. Ninja play helps kids to learn team work. It helps to strengthen community and social connections through encouragement and support. Ninja builds resilience and confidence in Aussie kids. What’s not to love?
So, you have an active 6–12-year-old audience, fully embracing the ways of the ninja? Now you need a place to harness the true power of ninja’s life lessons. Imagination Play has just released its new range of outdoor ninja equipment, specially developed for ages 6-12.
Lead designer Michael Boatwood, is very familiar with the nuance of ninja courses; he has a son who does ninja competitively. He knows it’s more than a series of physical challenges linked together. There has to be a natural flow of movement, the start and finish needs to be captured in a way that sparks excitement, and the mini ninjas need to be able to emulate their on-screen heroes. Each course has to be a fun challenge for all participants, regardless of the size difference between 6-12.
Michael and the design team have created 3 courses, each able to adapt to various spaces and budgets. Each equipment ‘event’ has been thoughtfully designed. The famed ‘warped wall’ has been recreated so it can be conquered by those daring to run straight up, with hand and foot folds to the side for those still developing their skills. The events using upper body strength requiring a big jump have foot holds on the posts, so the younger kids can access the equipment without help. There are even alternate options for simplifying the actions, for those kids still building their confidence. Michael has also developed start and finish signs with rotating paddles that kids can spin to signify the start and finish of their ninja lap. These simple paddles mean there are no loud bells or buzzers to disrupt the school or park environment, and there are no expensive wiring requirements for digital displays.
In Australia, less than one quarter of children get the recommended amount of physical activity, and only one third of kids are meeting the recommended guidelines for sedentary screen time (ABS 2011-12). The Federal and State governments across Australia have implemented “active schools’ grant programs, to encourage children to increase their physical activity.
We surveyed primary school teachers during the design development process, and 100% of them said that ninja equipment would encourage kids to be more active during playtimes. The new range of ninja style equipment by Imagination Play is also fully customisable. There are a sweet of colours and equipment options to choose from. We have also designed our footings so the equipment works with a combination of tan bark/mulch with a rubber wet pour path, to keep the costs from spiraling!
Ninja builds resilience and confidence in Aussie kids. What’s not to love?
If you have a playground project for a school or park, consider the powerful lure of ninja style play for primary aged kids. Weather the equipment is used for unstructured play, or implemented as part of the physical education curriculum, kids will actively engage with a ninja course. Talk to our team today and find out more about how we can custom make a ninja style course to suit your school or park!