Advocate for outside play helps design play equipment and works with contractors and community groups to install the play structures in parks, schools and communities all over the Pacific Northwest.

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PLAYGROUND EQUIPPER
John Mullan

What do you do? I sell playground equipment. More specifically, at my company, PlayCreation, we are representatives of commercial playground equipment manufacturers and safety surfacing suppliers. We design play equipment and then work with specialty contractors and community groups to install the play structures in parks, schools and communities all over the Pacific Northwest.

How did you get started in that field? I wish I had an inspiring story about being wanting to build community and promote the value and importance of play. But the reality is that I was at the right place at the right time, and I was ready for a new opportunity. At the time, I had no idea it would be as gratifying, rewarding and as challenging as it is.

What’s a typical day like? There is a lot to love about working in the playground industry — one thing is that there is absolutely no such thing as a typical day. We work on lots of playground projects, and each one is different. One day I may be presenting to a group of landscape architects, and another, I’ll be meeting a semi truck and operating a forklift to unload a new play structure. My favorite days are called “community builds,” when I supervise a group of volunteers to install their new play structure.

What’s the best part of the job? The ribbon cutting at a new all-inclusive playground is my favorite part of the job. The trend in playgrounds is inclusive design: play areas designed for all, not just typically-abled children, but children of all abilities. Being even a small part of a movement that believes that every child should have a place to play is the best part of my job … and being there watching all the kids play for the first time can seriously move you to tears.

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What surprises people about your work? When I tell people about what I do, they inevitably say, “When I was a kid we had monkeys bars over asphalt,” so they are surprised at the different materials and innovative designs that not only make up today’s playground equipment, but also the safety surfacing underneath it. Go outside and play!

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