CHANUTE, KANSAS, November 16th, 2016 – Over 75 excited visitors converged at Katy Park in Chanute, Kansas, to witness the unveiling of a brand new inclusive playground that has been the vision of the local community for the past year. Enthusiastic students from Saint Patrick’s Catholic School along with adults from the Tri-Valley Developmental Services Center tested out the new ramped structure along with the unique freestanding musical instruments, a moving gondola, merry-go-round, and roller slide.
The overall vision for this playground began as a dream by the Autism Hope for Families support group, started by Phil and Nikki Jacobs. As local parents, the Jacobs’ had a special vested interest in this playground. Their 6-year-old daughter, Raylin, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 21 months. The Jacobs’ provided valuable input into the playground design, and envisioned a space where all kids can play together, regardless of their abilities. “We wanted a place where Raylin could go and be among other children. The socialization aspect of a playground teaches children to accept others in a happy, unstructured environment” said Nikki. Phil Jacobs added “This playground keeps Raylin’s interest and attention. We can remain at the playground for up to two hours. When visiting non-inclusive playgrounds, she would grow bored and want to leave.”
The Unity Adaptive Playground was designed utilizing Me2, the only program which uniquely adapts the Seven Principles of Inclusive Playground DesignÒ to the playground environment. By using these principles, co-developed by PlayCore and Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, communities can create playgrounds that truly invite people of all abilities to play in an immersive, inclusively designed play space.
Debbie Shields, Chairperson of the Parks Advisory Board in Chanute added “It has been such a long time since we had a nice, new park feature. We are the home to Tri-Valley Developmental services which pulls in from a four-county area to support children and adults with developmental disabilities. This playground can unify both typically developing children and those with disabilities, and teach them both to help one another.”
Thanks to the matching funds offer from Play & Park Structures, a PlayCore company, the city of Chanute was able to raise the additional funds needed to complete the playground in a relatively short period of time.