As our video suggested, 4 A Better Chandler, Inc. really wants to go beyond the idea of simply replacing dated equipment with newer versions. We think this is the perfect time to begin thinking beyond the playground and even our small community to address an even greater need: building a park that provides an inclusive play/recreation experience for people of all ages and abilities.
"Inclusive play is something that is very dear to me," said Wendy Wary, president of 4 A Better Chandler. "One of my three boys is a pediatric stroke survivor, two of my boys struggle with sensory issues, and I have a perfect little nephew who is already overcoming some of the physical challenges of Down Syndrome."
The idea behind inclusive play is creating spaces that are accessible to everyone, equipment that is fun and provides a range of challenges for all ages and abilities, and that allows for free movement of everyone within and around the playground. It's a way to immerse everyone (adults, alike, in some cases) in the play experience.
"I think we have an opportunity to not only look at improving what our park currently has to offer, but to make it a place where people from our greater community will gladly travel to play here because it's something that isn't readily available anywhere else," said Wary. "We want to look at designing this project in a way that provides specific equipment or experiences that are beneficial for children with unique needs, that breaks down the barriers for those with physical disabilities (including adults who might find it difficult to access playgrounds), and that while addressing these issues remains fun, exciting, and challenging for the kids who already frequent the park."
4 A Better Chandler, Inc. is applying for grant money to take on the first phase of such a project. It would bring one section of the park's current playground into compliance with ADA standards by providing accessible surfacing, an access ramp at the entrance, and inclusive equipment. This phase of the project includes a multi-bay swing set, merry-go-round, a springy saddle ride, and a large spinning top feature.
Future phases would incorporate a toddler/preschool play area, and a giant playground with fun attractions for older children; both of those will include additional community input on the features that should be included in the design.