A Playground To Smile About

All citizens want the community they live in to be responsive to their needs.

The Griffin family cuts the ribbon on the new inclusive playground in Belton, Mo.

In Belton, Mo., the quick and positive reaction of the Parks and Recreation department to the pleas of a family show the tremendous effect a community can have on its citizens and its social capital.

In March 2010, Kelly Griffin, a mother of two daughters, wrote a heartfelt letter to Todd Spalding, Director of Parks and Recreation for Belton, to say that although they loved going to their local park, they were frustrated that their daughter was unable to play with her older sister.

Kelly explained that her daughter Paisley has a rare genetic syndrome that requires her to spend most of her time in a wheelchair. That left her sitting on the sidewalk, watching everyone else play, because she could not access the playgrounds in Belton’s parks.

Both Paisley and her older sister, Hayley, often ended visits to the park in tears because one couldn’t play, the other played by herself, and both parents were torn and frustrated. Kelly went on to say that it didn’t seem fair that the parks were not set up for ALL kids to enjoy, and that children with special needs are entitled to play outdoors like every other kid.

The very next day, Kelly received a call from Spalding. He told Kelly, “I didn’t realize the magnitude of the challenges that members of the community with disabilities faced.”

He vowed to make it right. He asked if the family would come meet with his department and discuss the challenges the current play spaces presented to help him better understand how to improve them.

“When we showed up,” said Kelly, “his assistant, Vanda Meehan, already had pictures of swings and playground surfaces ready to present to us at the meeting. We were blown away by their rapid response.

“Shortly after the initial meeting, Mr. Spalding contacted us and said they were going to re-do a whole playground and make it completely accessible, and they wanted our family to give input on the designs.”

Paisley Griffin is happy to be able to play with her big sister and other kids on the playground.

Belton Park and Recreation contacted PlayCore to learn more about the company’s Seven Principles of Inclusive Design and to understand what products were available to help create the vision that the Griffin family dreamed of.

PlayCore, which created the design program in partnership with Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, saw the need to create a playground design program that addressed a multitude of abilities, taking inclusion beyond ADA access guidelines to provide best practice design principles that ensure that all people are included.

PlayCore’s Play and Park Structures brand provided the products to execute the design, and their local representative, Karen Herren with ABCreative, listened carefully to ensure that the play space met the needs of the Griffins and the community.

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Cincinnati Playground Reflects History
  2. Minnesota Playground Honored
  3. Contest Winners Enjoying Playground
  4. A Playground For All
  5. Ohio City Wins Playground Contest
  • Columns
  • Departments