What the judges look for in a winning submission

Judges in previous Legacy of Play contests offer tips for submitting a winning entry. Here’s what they look for in a winning submission for the Kiwanis International–Landscape Structures Inc. contest:  

Ben Hendricks, chief communications officer, Kiwanis International

Ben HendricksCommunity support, a fundraising plan and a design that would be inclusive for all members of the community are among the key elements I looked for in a submission. It was important to see community involvement so that I could trust that maintenance/upkeep would be sustainable. Many of the projects needed a substantial amount of money, and those that displayed an ability and commitment to raising this money stood out. Finally, it’s important to me that children of all ages and abilities have a place to play. Designs that took this into consideration were held in high regard for me.

Dillon Kalkhurst, co-founder & CMO (chief motivation officer) D. Knight Marketing & Consulting Group, Inc, Member Kiwanis Club of Ormond Beach

Dillon Kalkhurst, Co-Founder & CMO (Chief Motivation  Officer) D. Knight Marketing & Consulting GroupWinning entries should demonstrate that they can work with multiple community partners and have a site that offers the most impact for the most kids. I also look for locations that don’t have a lot of other options. Partners, fundraising and space are the top three things I look for.  

Also, it’s important that clubs have a plan for long-term maintenance. Too many clubs build things, do the ribbon cutting and never go back. I want to know how clubs plan to use the playground to build membership and to help the community long after the build and ribbon cutting.  

Red flags would be the lack of a long-term plan for engagement in the project and going it alone, without a partner. Green flags are strong community partnerships, the impact on the community and a plan that lasts long after the construction is complete. Partnerships are important because clubs can’t do it alone—it takes a village. The more partners, the more volunteers, promotion and community impact.  

Winning entries offer a convenient location where other similar structures are unavailable, and should provide access for all with nice visuals.

Jim Roberts, member of the Kiwanis Club of Napa, California

Jim Roberts, member of the Kiwanis Club of Napa, CaliforniaI look for sincerity in an entry, and a plan for making it happen.

I also want to see a plan for maintenance, because without that component, the playground could become unsafe. It’s also important that there’s something for children with special needs. 

We have had great luck with attaining new members in our club as we have done these projects for the school districts, parks and recreation and churches. When we are building a playground, everyone knows about it.  

A good entry should offer a variety of safe fun for kids, it’s great to have options like slides and things that allow kids to stretch, and have things for kids without skills or coordination. 

June Steder, CEO, AO Tech Inc.

June Steder, CEO, AO Tech Inc.Clubs with thorough planning are winners – I look for a good committee, land acquisition that is complete, and active fundraising. If you’re going to spend a lot of money, you also need a plan for maintenance. Why spend all that money to have it become unusable or an eyesore in a few years.

A red flag for me would be no real plans or no real idea of the cost; and a green flag for me would be detailed planning by a good committee that has already started raising money. It’s important to have partners for support, too, as they can take a sense of ownership and help the project succeed.

Kiwanis is about serving children, and the playgrounds are a way to show that service locally, in a place that is fun and safe. Lastly, I also look for need – does the community need the playground.

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