Monday, July 21, 2014

A Park Designed with Disabilities in Mind

My sister works at a rehabilitation facility for those with disabilities. They often take their clients to various places for recreation, including the movies, state parks, and festivals. My sister came to me one day, and told me that they were running out of ideas, and felt "stuck" doing the same things every month. They were in desperate need for new ideas and places--specifically places that are interactive and accessible to those with and without disabilities.

Recently, a friend of mine mentioned a playground that he had seen on the news, at Snyder Park in Springfield, Ohio. The park opened in mid-June and was wheelchair accessible. You can take a look at the video below.

The plans for the park were set in place by the Springfield Rotary Club. They held a one-day build to install the $300,000 playground for children throughout Clark County.

My friend and I decided to check it out for ourselves. With a 17-month-old girl and a rather clumsy 7-year-old boy, I felt that the safety features were ideal for my children. Not only that, but if it were all that it was cracked up to be, it would be the perfect place for my sister to bring her clients.

We arrived at the park, and were instantly impressed. The video doesn't really do the place justice. It's incredibly colorful, and pretty darn big. There were maybe 50 kids there, but they were all very well spread out due to the vast size of the playground.

The "ground" for the playground was a very soft, cushion-like rubber, that would easily absorb the impact of a fall. It was actually quite cool bouncing around on the stuff--even for an adult like myself. Needless to say, the kids enjoyed that feature as well.

I also took notice of the seating throughout the playground. Not only were there places to sit on the jungle gym itself, but there were also various areas of seating on the ground below.

The swings were probably the second best feature of the park. I mean, because no park is a park without swings. They had baby swings, but they also had swings for kids. And these weren't your ordinary swings. They had a "strap-in" system, kind of like what you see on inverted roller coasters, that made the kids feel extra safe. This is perfect not only for those with disabilities, but also for those who don't feel "safe" on regular swings.

As mentioned previously, the playground was wheelchair accessible--with ramps that were wide enough to fit wheelchairs on every area, except for the slides. But the slides aren't the only fun thing to do on the playground. They also had random "toys," such as a "fortune teller," that you spin and it answers a yes or no question. There were also steering wheels and "rollers" that you could spin with your hand.

For those unable to get onto the jungle gym, or for those with a fear of heights, there were plenty of things to do on the ground as well. There were plastic "bongo" drums, noise-makers, and even a "merry-go-round" with seating!

This park is nothing short of awesome. And get this! They're also planning to build a water park there in the future!

Needless to say, I think we've found our new spot!

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