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Play & Park Structures Playground News

Douglas Road Elementary awarded National Demonstration Site status for Inclusive Play

Douglas Road Elementary awarded National Demonstration Site status for Inclusive Play

LAMBERTVILLE, MI - October 26, 2015 - “We have traveled a long way in search of a place where all kids can play together,” said Carol Perz, Douglas Road Elementary School principal, as she opened the unveiling ceremony for the school’s new CP Swagger Shipyard inclusive playground to the public.

Flanked by the entire student body that also donned complementary pirate attire, Ms. Perz addressed the school’s students, teachers and parents, as well as local dignitaries, which included Lt. Governor Brian Calley. “Today we are here to say thanks to all who worked hard,” she said.

As a part of the unveiling, the CP Swagger Shipyard received PlayCore’s Inclusion National Demonstration Site™ award, for creating a destination where children of all abilities can play together. The site meets the 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design, and features activities that address the following areas of development: cognitive, communicative, sensory, physical, and social/emotional. Michele Chandler, from Play & Park Structures, a PlayCore company, presented the award to Bedford County Public Schools Superintendent, Mark Kleinhans. Ms. Chandler added, “In addition to this award, the playground at Douglas Road Elementary will also be featured in an online registry, where it will be recognized for the commitment you and your community have made to support inclusive play for people of all abilities.”

The ceremony celebrated the conclusion of installing the unique playground, which was inspired as part of the Gandee family’s second annual Cerebral Palsy Swagger, a walk designed to raise awareness for cerebral palsy, which Braden Gandee, who is a student at Douglas Road Elementary, was born with.

“Thank you to all the people who made this possible,” said Braden Gandee, as he spoke from the top of the play structure. “It could not have been done without your support.” Hunter said the playground holds a deep significance to him and his family. “It means inclusion.”

As the ceremony wrapped up, kindergarteners and first graders got a chance to test out the new structure. “It’s really fun. We just like how we can play on it and Braden can play with us,” said Emma Price, 7, a second-grader at Douglas Road Elementary.

Zachary Reyna Park awarded National Demonstration Site designation by PlayCore

Zachary Reyna Park awarded National Demonstration Site designation by PlayCore

Zachary Reyna Memorial Playground – a small community with a very big dream

LABELLE, FL, October 15, 2015 – In this small community of less than 4,500 residents, it is surprising to see a large playground structure surrounded by towering oak trees, aesthetically arranged native plantings, and outdoor fitness equipment strategically placed for optimum supervision.  These types of community projects are more typically found in larger cities and communities where tax dollars for park and recreation projects are more abundant and readily available.

“At the conception of this playground project, we recognized that the funding would not be coming from local revenue,” says Ramiro Rodriguez, Hendry LaBelle Recreation Director. “I realized that I would need to put a board together that would be deeply connected in the community, and able to use their considerable influence to secure 100% in donor funding.”  Mr. Rodriguez’s team did not let him down.  In fact, one of the largest donors doesn’t even live in the local community.

Elizabeth Bumgarner lives over 13 miles away in Alva, in neighboring Lee County.  When asked why she donated such a significant amount of funding for this project, she simply stated, “I wanted children to have a safe place to play, and I believe in paying it forward.”

Ms. Bumgarner and Mr. Rodriguez were on hand to receive the National Demonstration Site Award for Play On!, which designates a community’s commitment to physical activity on the playground. The Play On! Program combines playground activities with six key elements of play to promote overall fitness: balancing, brachiating (bilateral upper body activities), climbing, sliding, swinging and spinning. As a National Demonstration Site, the site will receive certification, become a part of a national registry, and is promoted actively to inspire other communities to promote physical activity and share best practices. Michele Chandler, Director of Marketing for Play & Park Structures presented the award. “We are so pleased to see a small community place such a large emphasis on the physical well being of it’s youngest constituents.  This playground represents the commitment this community has made to supporting its youth and families.”

On hand to demonstrate the physical activity focus of this Play & Park Structures playground were the first and third grade students from nearby LaBelle Elementary School.  As the youngsters climbed across cables, soared on swings, hung from overhead loops, and spun on a merry-go-round, the adults nearby enjoyed comfortable seating under shady oak trees, intentionally positioned for that very purpose. Mr. Rodriguez added “We heard from parents that they love taking their kids to the playground, but under the strong Florida sun they often found themselves overheated and ready to go home. With the shade provided by the trees and the stream behind the site, they are more comfortable to linger as they supervise their children.”

The Zac Reyna Memorial Playground is located at the Community Civic Park at 800 Jaycee Lions Drive, just behind LaBelle Elementary School

Crossing Abilities Playground

Crossing Abilities Playground

TANNERSVILLE, PA, September 4, 2014 – “Watch what I can do, mommy!” came the gleeful shout from the top of the twisty, spiral slide at the new Crossing Abilities Playground in Tannersville, PA.  With a vision to create a unique playground on roughly 4,000 square feet of space that would offer play opportunities for energetic and curious children with physical limitations, vision or hearing impairment, many generous organizations and foundations along with the Pocono Alliance in Monroe County helped fund the successful outcome of this half million-dollar playground project.

More than 100 people took part in the grand opening of the new playground on August 22, including two State Legislators, Representatives Mario Scavello and Rosemary Brown. As Crossing Abilities is the region’s first all-inclusive playground to provide full accessibility to children with special needs, Mr. Scavello and Ms. Brown praised the hard work and dedication of the stakeholders who helped plan, design, and fund the successful play space. 

Michael Tukeva of Pocono Alliance emceed the festivities, and was gracious in his acknowledgement of all the funding partners.  He also made special mention of Play & Park Structures, who designed the play equipment, and their generous matching funds grant that helped make the playground project more achievable.

In addition to the mobility device-friendly ramps, sensory motion play, music and game panels, as well as a unique kid-powered trolley system that transports children across a 20-foot track to a covered landing station, the equipment also features unique Braille signage for vision-impaired children. Four-inch thick, themed rubberized safety surfacing, a sloped outer pathway, and extra wide boarding areas allows children of all ages and abilities to play alongside each other.

Lydia Peters, a 6-year old with spinal muscular atrophy, was on hand to cut the ribbon, opening the playground to all attendees. Laurie Peters, Lydia’s mother, shared her satisfaction with the playground outcome by offering, “[Lydia] will face many challenges in her life, like every child, regardless of their abilities. Playing on a playground should not be one of those challenges.” The objective of the final universal design was to not make children with disabilities feel different, but to feel included. “Today, [Lydia] doesn’t have to be left out,” Laurie told the assembled crowd. “Today, her confidence and self-esteem is flourishing, because she’s not different here”. 

Larry Apel’s daughter, Giovanna, who has Down syndrome and autism, also found the playground to be extremely accessible. “This park is a great release for us,” said Larry. His daughter is able to play more safely atThe Crossing Abilities Playground and it is something they can look forward to without Larry having to “redirect her demand.”

Conclusion of the ribbon cutting ceremony resulted in children exuberantly fanning out to quickly discover the different play components waiting to be explored.