All-inclusive playground unveiled | New
PALMDALE – The game knows no bounds at Courtney’s playground at Marie Kerr Park.
Antelope Valley’s first all-inclusive playground features full, accessible rubber flooring and activities for kids of all skill levels, including a wheelchair-accessible carousel, swing set, and musical instruments at the level of the ground.
City officials, including Mayor Steve Hofbauer and Eric Dombrowski, deputy director of parks and recreation, joined Courtney’s family Wednesday morning for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The ceremony moved indoors due to thunderstorms.
The 1,834 square foot playing field and 574 square foot music area were designed with the help of Greg and Joanne Triana, who approached the city about two years ago to do something about it. honor of their late daughter, Courtney Ann Triana. A dedication panel on the playground features images of butterflies and a bird and photos of Courtney. There is also a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone. A link leads to the City of Palmdale website for the playground. The page includes a description of the playground as well as photos of Courtney and her story in her own words.
“We are so grateful that you are all here to support the family,” Dombrowski said. “The City of Palmdale is just happy to partner with them and the community.”
Hofbauer learned about fully inclusive playgrounds while on a trip to Northern California.
“With this dedication, we demonstrate our city’s commitment to inclusivity,” Hofbauer said. “Courtney’s Playground provides high-quality play and recreation opportunities and exemplifies evidence-based best practices in design, delivers meaningful experiences, and fully supports health and well-being.”
Courtney Triana was a normal 10-year-old girl who loved playing soccer and other sports. In October 2001, she was seriously injured when a lamppost in a grocery store parking lot fell and hit her in the head in Palmdale, Joanne Triana said. After three years in hospital, she returned home in November 2003.
“We wanted to bring her home,” Joanne said. “She stayed with us for 13 years.”
The family traveled across the country, visiting 28 states in an RV. Courtney also took a cruise to Alaska.
“We tried to make her life as normal as possible,” Joanne said.
Courtney died in October 2014. She was 23 years old.
“We dedicate this park in honor of our daughter Courtney, my sweet pea,” said Greg Triana. “This park is also for everyone, young and old, to enjoy.”
He added that he only really understood people with special needs after his daughter’s accident. It was only then that he began to understand that every individual, regardless of their needs, should be treated equally.
“People with disabilities are like everyone else and should be treated with the respect they deserve,” he said.
Courtney’s brother, Greg Triana Jr., helped educate city officials on what an inclusive playground really is, especially the wheelchair-friendly rubber surfacing.
“I’m just glad we’re all on the same page and all together as a team,” said Greg Triana Jr. “Remember, when you’re playing there and you see a butterfly or a little bird singing, it’s Courtney playing with you.”
Courtney’s carer, Alisha Magilei-Noternman, owns Dynamic Therapy Solutions, which specializes in assistive technology and enhanced communication, which is what Courtney used to communicate.
“With a lot of hard work, Courtney became a quick talker with her communication system; it allowed her personality to shine through – a moody teenager and someone who shared her love for the Spice Girls with us,” Magilei-Noterman said.
Courtney was able to participate in group therapy sessions, gave presentations, and appeared in numerous plays with typical peers, acting with her communication device on stage.
“She was really able to show her personality once she had a voice,” Magilei-Noternman said.
She thanked Courtney’s family and the city of Palmdale for making Antelope Valley a better place for people with disabilities.
The playground was funded through a generous donation from the Triana family and Measure AV funds, Dombrowski said.