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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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: