Visalia to build the first inclusive playground in the South Valley
âToday’s grant announcement marks a step forward for our community, it is the culmination of community support, citizen input and strong partnerships,â Mayor Steve Nelsen said last week . âThis grant will allow us to create Visalia’s first inclusive playground, a playground that will truly be built to serve children of all abilities.
Visalia Park is said to be the first inclusive park in Tulare County and only the 11th inclusive park in the state, according to California Making Accessible Possible (MAP), which tracks inclusive play structures in the state. The closest inclusive park is Lake Oso de Oro Park in Fresno, which has been specially designed for children in wheelchairs, including a wheelchair basketball court.
âThe Bridge Horizons Play Park will change the way we view gaming, it will be a gift to the town of Visalia,â said Jeremy Rogers, Director of Community Services. âThe insight and feedback from our residents, our City Council, and everyone who helped us prepare for and apply for this funding has brought us to this historic day. “
The park will be located on 1.25 acres of land east of the ImagineU Children’s Museum, along the Mill Creek Trail. Celebrating Visalia’s heritage with a look to the future, the Park will be made up of three main sections. The sense-rich exploration areas of the Sequoia Grove Inclusive Playground will house a cozy root ball space, Sequoia treehouse, Sensory Wall, and Sensory Dome Cone.
The Music and Story Meadow will be a community-centered, kid-led experience, featuring dancing chimes, a singing stone, and an outdoor stage. The River Bottom water play area will be powered by kids, not electricity, and will feature interactive climbing features, spouts, spray zones and more.
Planned in partnership with Unlimited Play, Inc., Bridge Horizons Play Park will serve the entire community.
âOur planning partners at Unlimited Play have really shown us how the benefits of inclusive playgrounds extend to able-bodied children as well,â Rogers added. âIt will be a space where children learn and grow by interacting with others who are in some ways different from them. It also allows adults with disabilities to play in spaces with their children. It will be a space that is truly for everyone.
The company’s slogan is âPlay is not a performing sportâ and they specialize in universally accessible playgrounds to promote health and wellness and growth development for all children and families.
According to their website, the majority of playgrounds around the world deny children, adults, and veterans with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy themselves, enrich themselves and socially interact that other people enjoy. Only a small percentage of fully accessible playgrounds exist in the United States and are insufficient to serve the 56.7 million Americans with disabilities, or about 18.7% of the nation’s population. He also points out that this generation is more sedentary than any other generation in history – with 24-hour TV programming, multiple channels, gaming systems and the explosion of digital devices preventing children from going out to explore, run. and play.
âUnlimited Play fills this gap by providing a place where people of all skill levels play together, learn from each other, value differences and find the strength to overcome challenges,â the website says.
Unlimited Play claims that the benefits of inclusive playgrounds also extend to able-bodied children who learn and grow up interacting with children who are in some ways different from them. It also allows adults with disabilities to play in spaces with their children.
“Disabled families[â¦]find that playgrounds are a place where ‘typical’ family activities can be enjoyed and where the differences seem minimal as family integration occurs, âthe website states.
Unlimited Play works primarily in Missouri, Arizona, Kansas, Texas, and Arkansas, but recently started a project in Sacramento. The closest completed project will be located in Show Low, Arizona, where the Frontier Park playground with a play structure has a western flair with a general store, blacksmith shop, living room and water tower. The $ 1.2 million project raised approximately 95% of the funding needed to complete the project.
For more information, contact Jeremy Rogers, Director of Community Services for the Town of Visalia at [emailÂ protected] or 559-713-4365.