Ken Kutska
About Us

Director of Parks and Planning (Retired)
Wheaton, Illinois, USA
Currently – Executive Director
International Playground Safety Institute, LLC
10611 Winding Stream Way
Bradenton, Florida 34212
Mobile: 541-977-4555

Kenneth currently is Executive Director of the International Playground Safety Institute, LLC. Since taking over the International Playground Safety Institute, LLC in 2008 he has delivered many international Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) courses throughout the world on behalf of the National Recreation and Park Association USA.

Ken was an approved instructor for the National Recreation and Park Association and U. S. Access Board’s training program for interpreting the United States Accessibility Guidelines for Public Playgrounds. He has presented programs on accessibility and inclusive play for all throughout the USA, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. Ken was instrumental in the development of Maintaining Child’s Play, a two-day training program for Playground Maintenance Technicians. The program is offered as a Certificate Program offered through the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands Indiana University.

After a successful 40-year leadership career in municipal government with 31 years as Director of Parks and Planning for the Wheaton Illinois Park District Ken became active as an independent consultant, expert witness, and public speaker. His area of expertise management of play spaces for children. He volunteers for various organizations involved in play and the playground industry and has written numerous articles on play and playground related issues.

Ken is also President of Children and Recreation Environments, Inc. (CRE, Inc.) which provides special surfacing system adhesives and non-toxic antimicrobial cleaners for children’s play areas.

Ken received his degree in Public Park and Recreation Administration from Western Illinois University. He has been a Certified Park and Recreation Professional and a Certified Playground Safety Inspector throughout his career with more than 40 years of full-time experience in all aspects of Public park and recreation operations management.  He has a strong risk management background having chaired his agency’s Safety Committee from 1984 until retiring in 2006. Wheaton Park District is one of over 125 government agencies forming the Park District Risk Management Agency (, a premier risk management agency responsible for all aspects of loss control services including general liability insurance coverage.

Ken is an active member of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Ken served on the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA) Board of Directors and two-time chair of the IPRA Park and Natural Resource Management Section. During his NRPA involvement he chaired the NRPA Great Lakes Regional Council, the NRPA National Forum, served two terms on the NRPA Board of Trustees, and in 1995 he was elected President of the NRPA.

In 1990 Ken cofounded the NRPA National Playground Safety Institute along with Monty Christiansen, now Professor Emeritus at Penn State University and the late Ms Fran Wallach, PhD at NYU. The NPSI’s Certified Playground Safety Inspector Course has trained more than 75,000 with a current national registry of over 7,000 CPSIs. Ken has been a CPSI Course Certified Instructor since 1994 when the program first gained approval as a National Certification Program. Ken authored several chapters for the first CPSI course textbooks. He chaired the NPSI Executive Committee five times and has served on the CPSI Course; curriculum, exam, and certification committees.

Ken was elected to the American Academy of Park and Recreation Administrators (AAPRA) in 1997. Ken has been an active member of several subcommittees of the American Society for Testing and Materials ( since 1988. In 1995, he was appointed Vice-Chair of the F15.29 Subcommittee on safety performance requirements for play equipment for public use. In 2005 he was appointed Chair of the F15.29 Subcommittee. This ASTM Subcommittee is responsible for the ASTM F1487 Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use. In 2008 Ken was appointed to the International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association’s (IPEMA) Voice of Play Board of Advisors.

Voluntary advocacy efforts promoting the benefits of playand safer play environments
Ken developed a comprehensive training program and manual dealing with the many different playground management and safety issues for his Agency in 1989. As a result of this operations manual for his agency’s play areas, he co-authored an expanded version book titled, Playground Safety Is No Accident:  Developing a Public Playground Safety and Maintenance Program. In 2011 he released the 5th Edition of the book which has also been a major portion of the risk management section of the CPSI course instruction. He also co-authored a book “Guide to Playground Planning,” Illinois Park and Recreation Association, 1995. The purpose of this guide was to help small communities with limited or no professional staff develop a plan to create a safe yet challenging play spaces for children which meets the current play area standards and guidelines along with the developmental needs of the children. Ken has written numerous articles and is a regular contributor to Playground Magazine and Playground Professionals while continuing to make presentations on various playground management issues around the world.

Ken was a member of the 2002 Technical Advisory Committee to the Illinois Park and Recreation Association that received a State of Illinois Used Tire Recovery Grant. This grant resulted in the development of a playground safety surface system which exceeds the requirements for a fall height of 15 feet or more while meeting the accessibility requirements of ASTM F1951 Standard. This surface system recycles one passenger tire equivalent per square foot. The system is currently available in the marketplace under the proprietary name SMARTE.

Ken became one of a four-person team chosen to represent U.S. Aid team to visit Sri Lanka following the December 2004 Tsunami in early 2005. The team, funded by the Clinton-Bush Tsunami Relief Fund, developed a plan for the design, installation, and operation of approximately 85 play areas in the most devastated coastal areas to bring play and recreation opportunities back to the Sri Lankan children.

In 2008 Ken presented the idea of a National Summit on the “Value of Play” to some colleagues at Clemson University, South Carolina, USA. He was a member of the first planning committee for the first 2009 Summit on the Value of Play for All. This Summit resulted in the creation of the U.S. Play Coalition. In 2020 it hosted its 10th Annual Play Coalition Conference at Clemson University and they have just finished their second Virtual Annual Conference on Play as a direct result of the Covid 19 world pandemic.

Ken is an Advisor to the Playright Children’s Play Association of Hong Kong, the Playground Safety Association of Malaysia (PSAM), the Landscape Industry Association of Singapore (LIAS) and Singapore’s National Parks Board Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology (CUGE). Over the past 15 plus years he has provided extensive training opportunities for these associations on various public playground related issues. He has also made several presentations related to playground safety standards issues and current trends in standards development to the Japanese Parks Facilities Association (JPFA).

Ken works continuously with many international standards organizations towards a better understanding of our cultural differences which effect each other’s national standards for playground equipment and surfacing requirements. In continuation of his main goal of further educating the playground manufacturer, designer, owner, and inspector he works towards the development of more National and International Playground Safety Training and CPSI Courses. These efforts have been mainly in new developing markets concerned with improving the safety of children’s playspaces in hopes that every unit of local or regional government and the public play area owner/operator has at least one trained and certified staff member responsible for the many varied aspects of public playground management.

Ken in efforts to further this goal released the 6th Edition of Playground Safety Is No Accident: Developing a Public Playground Management and Operation Program in 2021. Due to the COVID-19 shutdown in 2021, Ken along with Rolf Huber of the Canadian Playground Advisory created some new online training opportunities. These courses can be found at This online training addresses and specializes in the latest changes in playground equipment and protective surfacing industry standards.