|
|
Examiner
  • Lori Boyajian-O'Neill: Inclusive play park a KC area first

  • Our bodies are designed to be in motion. We humans are made to move. Physical activity makes our bodies, minds and spirits stronger. The folks spearheading an effort to build an inclusive play project at McCoy Park in Independence understand the importance of physical play to the overall development of kids. All kids.

    • email print
  • Our bodies are designed to be in motion. We humans are made to move. Physical activity makes our bodies, minds and spirits stronger. The folks spearheading an effort to build an inclusive play project at McCoy Park in Independence understand the importance of physical play to the overall development of kids. All kids.
    Kids with disabilities have many challenges but having full access to play spaces should not be one of them. The McCoy Park Inclusive Play Project, what do you know? T or F?
    1. There are several inclusive parks in the KC area.
    2. Ramps will lead to the top of all play elements.
    3. Adults can join their kids at play.
    The city of Independence is developing the metro area’s first inclusive play space at McCoy Park, located across from the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library (St. Louis has 5). The park promises to be a place, "Where limitations are forgotten and differences are celebrated." It is an ideal location for an inclusive play area that will serve children with special needs. It will also enable parents with disabilities to join their able-bodied children in play. Think what it would mean to a disabled veteran to join his or her child at the top of a slide or round third and head for home. Together.
    Independence Parks and Recreation Director Eric Urfer explains the initial concept for a truly inclusive and accessible play space emerged from a formal strategic planning process that resulted in the P & R Department Master Plan. Through this planning process it was learned that Independence has many children who do not have truly accessible play space. And the rest is history.
    Urfer reports that there are many elements to the grand plan for the park. The first phase for the transformation of McCoy Park is to build the Cal Ripken Sr. Ability Field and the second phase is for the Unlimited Play playground. The Ability Field groundbreaking will be in early summer and is scheduled to open in the fall. The playground will open in the fall of 2014, if not sooner.
    The Ability Field will feature a T-ball sized field with painted bases for safety and larger dugouts to accommodate mobility devices and athletes’ buddies. "Everything from kickball to whiffle ball will be played there" according to Urfer. The playground will feature slides, swings, climbing and other elements designed so all children can play together. He proudly points out that when completed, "there will be nothing like it in the entire Midwest."
    The city of Olathe is planning to build an Ability Field and there are plans for friendly competitions between teams from Olathe and Independence.
    The Americans with Disabilities Act provides only for very basic access to public space. Truly inclusive play space allows children with special needs much greater access to slides, paths and ball fields than traditional playgrounds. They allow children with assistive devices and wheelchairs to be immersed in their play space. Imagine their excitement when they get to the top of the slide. Ready. Set. Go. Repeat.
    Page 2 of 2 - Many notable organizations have come on board to support this project including Royals Charities, Cal Ripkin Sr. Foundation, Unlimited Play and Variety KC. The goal of this coalition of organizations is to build an inclusive play project in Independence and others around the KC Metro area. Unlimited Play is an organization in St. Peters, Mo., which manufactures playground equipment designed to accommodate kids with special physical needs. Unlimited Play’s vision is to, "build playgrounds where all challenges and limitations created by disabilities are forgotten."
    There are many ways companies and individuals can contribute to this project. All appreciated. To learn how you may be a part of this spectacular community effort access www.mccoypark.com. I can’t wait for Opening Day!
    Answers: 1. F; 2. T; 3. T.
    Dr. Lori Boyajian-O’Neill can be contacted at lori.boyajian-oneill@hcahealthcare.com
     
     
     
      • calendar