Congratulations to the 2015 Playground Safety Award Winners!

John Preston Award

The John Preston Award is given annually to a group or organization that has made a difference in creating S.A.F.E. play areas for children. This year’s award goes to the United States Department of Defense's (DoD) Child and Youth Programs. The DoD Child and Youth Programs has a remarkable history of making children’s safety a priority. The dedicated military personal work tirelessly educating staff on bettering the care and education for children of all ages.


The DoD Child and Youth Programs and NPPS have developed a strong partnership over the past sixteen years to address the importance of playground safety.  They have been educating all staff who work with you to ensure safe and inclusive play areas.  In addition, the DoD Child and Youth Programs provides education and training on supervision practices. Based on current national standards and best practices these learning opportunities continue to build the solid foundation the DoD Child and Youth Programs has established around safety in children’s outdoor environment.

We applaud the DoD Child and Youth Programs for their commitment to keeping children safe. Through educated staff and inspectors the outdoor play areas on military installations world-wide are safer for children and a model to other civilian programs serving children in the outdoor environment. We congratulate the DoD Child and Youth Programs for being named the 2015 recipient of the John Preston Award.

Ahrens Playground Advocate of the Year

The Ahrens Playground Safety Advocate of the Year recognition is given to an individual who has made many contributions to playground safety.  This year, two individuals are being recognized as Ahrens’ Advocates of the Year, Dr. Donna Thompson and Dr. Susan Hudson.      

Donna Thompson, PhD is an acknowledged national and international expert in the field of playground development and safety. She has more than 20 years of experience teaching, writing, and researching about playgrounds. She has done numerous presentations on playground development, including television interviews on ABC's Good Morning America; CBS's Early Edition; and NBC's Today show. Dr. Thompson served on several national committees and boards that have influenced decisions related to playground safety and was a consultant for numerous groups on planning playgrounds.   

Susan Hudson, PhD is also a nationally and international expert in the area of playground safety. She has made numerous presentations on playground design and safety, and is the author and co-author of over 100 articles concerning playgrounds. Dr. Hudson has held numerous leadership and committee assignments in national professional organizations, including the American Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, and the National Recreation and Park Association. She held an endowed professorship at the University of Northern Iowa.  

Together, Dr. Thompson and Dr. Hudson founded the National Program for Playground Safety in 1995 at the University of Northern Iowa.  Since that time, they have worked tirelessly to promote safe play practices across the country.  We applaud the following dedication to the work on playground safety.

·        Established a national message (S.A.F.E.)  on playground safety ·        Instituted a National Playground Safety School ·        Presented to over 43 states and 6 different countries ·        Completed 2 national studies ·        Appeared on the Today Show Good Morning America, and Later Today program ·        Hosted a US Summit on playground safety with state officials from all 50 states. ·        Produced 8 educational videos and 2 CD-ROMs. ·        Published 19 books/monographs, 21 book chapters, 150 professional articles, and 18 technical reports. ·        Created a National Action Plan for the Prevention of Playground Injuries ·        Created 25 informational brochures and pamphlets (4 in Spanish) ·        Developed three theoretical models on playground safety ·        Conducted four studies on playground surfacing ·        Assessed 64 childcare and school-age sites for the U.S Air Force. ·        Made seven major television appearances on ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, and NBC ·        Created National Playground Safety Week

In 2014, Dr. Thompson and Dr. Hudson retired from the University of Northern Iowa, but remain very active in supporting the work of playground safety.  The National Program for Playground Safety is proud to recognize them as this year's Ahrens Playground Safety Advocates of the Year. Through their collective work, they have made a difference in the lives of many children across the country. 

Congratulations to Dr. Thompson and Dr. Hudson for being named the 2015 Ahrens Playground Safety Advocates of the Year.