Northwestern's Dr. James Therrell designs 'Challenge Playground'

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Northwestern's Dr. James Therrell designs 'Challenge Playground'

August 19, 2008

Dr. James Therrell, assistant professor of education for Northwestern Oklahoma State University, recently helped design, organize and officially inspect the construction of a new playground for Roosevelt Elementary in Ponca City.

Therrell is no stranger when it comes to playground design. Not only has he advised and worked with major manufacturers and top designers on previous playground projects, he also is a Certified Playground Safety Inspector. To begin assisting Roosevelt Elementary in the design project, Therrell had to renew his national certification. The school district funded this three-day, $750 endeavor in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“This project was a wonderful, collaborative opportunity to work with the principal, superintendent, parents, teachers and students at this elementary school to build this new, low-cost ‘challenge’ playground,” Therrell said. “It’s a ‘Challenge Playground’ because the design includes many different upper body challenges unlike almost any other playgrounds.”

By having a “Challenge Playground,” elementary students can work on their upper body strength, a place where children are the weakest. The playground includes pull-up bars, rings, a rope climber, ladder, cargo net and monkey bars.

To complete this project, it required more than 800 man-hours, eight months and only $16,000. The playground opened in March and was completed this past summer.

Anyone interested in becoming a Certified Playground Safety Inspector or who may have questions regarding this project, please contact Therrell at or (580) 327-8448.