A new all-inclusive playground, especially designed for kids of all abilities, was officially opened to the community Thursday, May 23.
The new playground, located at the Eighth Street Park, is one of two Playcore.com national demonstration sites in the state; the other being in Scottsdale.
Douglas was selected to be a national demonstration site because it fulfills the requirements of being inclusive in that children, regardless of their abilities, can benefit from the new playground.
Playcore.com is a purpose-driven company that develops leading research and a complete portfolio of innovative products, programs, and services to build healthy communities through play and recreation.
Their website reads, they “build communities through play and recreation.”
Jennifer Smith, leisure services manager for Douglas, said the project was made possible through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds with 100 percent matching funds from GameTime and Triple M Recreation which was used to help with the main portion of the playground.
“The grant matched the city’s cost for the main structure,” she said. “The amount we saved with the grant allowed us to purchase additional freestanding equipment.”
Smith estimated the cost of the total project to be $125,000 in CDBG funds.
“This new playground will be an area all kids can engage and have fun,” she stated. “This was such an amazing project. The impact it’s going to have on our community will be huge.”
“The public works department for the city did an amazing job getting the playground completed They did a lot of the heavy footwork on this project,” Smith said adding the playground took about two months to install. “We still have some more work to do. We want to put in a seating area, irrigation so we can have some nice grass and hopefully some shading.”
Pete Ryan of Triple M Recreation, the Arizona representative of GameTime, said the playground looks fantastic.
GameTime is a leading commercial playground equipment manufacturer. They have been building playgrounds since 1929.
“We work with park and recreation professionals, schools, landscape architects and youth organizations to create outdoor recreation solutions for every generation,” their website reads. “Play and fitness projects should be fun, fast, and easy.”
Smith has been, “so passionate about getting this project done,” Ryan said. “It has been a joy to work with her. Jen was my first introduction to Douglas. She wanted something for all the kids to play on regardless of their cognitive or physical abilities.”
Tom Norquist, senior vice president of GameTime, who flew in from Alabama for the ribbon cutting, described an inclusive playground.
“When you think of the word include, you all want to be included in good things. An inclusive playground is a playground where everybody is included no matter what their ability,” he said. “That’s what you have created here. A child with a disability is still a child and we want them to be out there with all of our kids playing.”
The new playground includes swings that are called expression swings.
“These are new to the industry. They foster an environment where the parent and child can swing together,” he said. “There is also one that has a therapeutic seat in it so if you have a child with a disability you can also place them in it and you can swing with them. There is also one made for older children as well as adults. We also have a therapeutic spinning seat that gives the child the sensation of spinning.”
The playground also features a merry-go-round that is designed for children of all abilities. It has seat backs on it so if there is a child that can’t sit up properly on their own, they can sit and can experience the fun of going around and around.
Another feature at the site is a tri-runner.
“The tri-runner is a modern day may pole. This tri-runner has swing seats on the bottom that have a rubber impact edge so if someone accidently runs into it, it’s not going to hurt them. It rotates in a 360-degree fashion,” Norquist said. “The modern composite play structure is designed for children in mobility devices as well as everyone else who can play and experience climbing, sliding, there is a rocking ramp in the back, a glider … there is a slide transfer so if we have a child in a mobility device (he/she) can easily slide out of their device and get on to it and come down the slide where they can then be picked up.”
Norquist stated we all, regardless of our age, need some kind of play time
“What you have done here is created a vaccine for all the citizens of Douglas to be a much healthier community together,” he said. “We are very passionate about our national demonstration sites. We will stay in touch with Jen and the city. We want your feedback. We want to learn from you what’s working well. We want to also hear about the user experiences.”