Kate’s Place for Everyone: An Accessible Playground

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I’d just as soon spend time at the dentist as at a typical playground. They all look the same. They lack imagination. They’re hot, and uncomfortable. They are, simply put, boring. https://unlockingthegate.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/where-do-your-children-play/

That said, I did another post about the kind of green, natural playspace that I fully endorse: https://unlockingthegate.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/magical-landscaping/

But looking at this issue from an entirely different perspective, neither one is particularly accessible to children with disabilities.

Kate’s Place

In Elmira, Ontario, a local mother and daughter have been getting a great deal of press lately, and deservedly so. Kelly Meissner (who is a finalist for a major “Mom of the year” award from Walmart), pulled together her community and raised $300,000 to build a fabulous accessible playground.

Accessible Play Structure

Inspired and motivated by a little girl with Angelman’s Syndrome, “Kate’s Place for Everyone” is one of the most interesting, unique, and thoughtful public parks that I have had the pleasure to visit. The equipment is designed to fully integrate children with a wide range of disabilities into the play environment. Not only that, the available equipment is diverse and entertaining for children of all abilities. For those of you who think this is a park only for children with disabilities, think again. It is named “Kate’s Place for Everyone” for a reason.

The accessible play structures include interesting movable parts, and have a safer construction for small children. I felt much better allowing my toddler to play there. The ground is also covered with some sort of squishy mat.

There are machines you can sit on and dig in the sand. In that sand pit, there are buried stone treasures waiting to be uncovered.

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Full Support Swings

Secure, full support swing seats hang next to the more ordinary variety. A slide with rollers (think old-style factory or grocery store conveyer belts) eliminates electric shocks.

Spinning seats quickly reminded me that I’m too old to be spinning. I would have ADORED those when I was a kid. The carousel, low to the ground, appears to be safer than those which were eliminated from playgrounds when I was a child.

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A new kind of carousel

 

 

Kate’s Place resides in beautiful Gibson Park in Elmira, with towering trees scattered in the grass, picnic facilities, and a set of accessible trails through a dense woodlot. Shade in a playground…. what a concept! Amazing more people haven’t thought of it. (sigh) There is also an abundance of seating available. This tired mother says THANK YOU!

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Not sure what to call this, but it was neat.

One other thing I noticed was a picnic table designed to accommodate wheelchairs. My eyes actually started welling up a little thinking about what a difference that small change could make. I didn’t get a picture of that, unfortunately. These pictures really don’t do this playground justice. You have to see it first hand.

There are new additions in the works, such as outdoor fitness equipment, and I hear a “sensory wall” was added last week.

So, I will make an exception. This is a playground I can really get behind. I am planning to drag all my “Mom- friends” and their children out there for playdates soon.

Thank you to Kelly Meissner, who made this happen. You have made a real difference in your community, and you are truly an inspiration.

For more information, to make a donation, or to find out how to vote for Kelly in the “mom of the year” contest, visit:

http://www.kateskause.com

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10 Responses to Kate’s Place for Everyone: An Accessible Playground

  1. We are fortunate to have an accessible playground here in Athens, Ga., and it is a great blessing. But, not all communities are as fortunate. Would that someone would make them so much in demand that the cost for them would be reduced greatly. No doubt every community needs a playground where EVERYONE can play! Thanks for sharing this inspiring story.

  2. What a beautiful playground! If they had one of these in my neighbourhood, I’d be tempted to join in on the fun!

  3. Yes! We love the one near us. It’s my favorite park and I drive 30 minutes to get to it.

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  6. Scott Forsyth says:

    Thank you very much, for the playground as a dad of two children and a former ECE I to thought that all playground’s were the same and at times dull, but Kate’s place is awesome as their is so much different things to learn and explore and play with, my oldest child asked me questions about the playground saying why is that like that how does that work, thank you to everyone that helped raise money for the playground

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