Why is Castle Rock building an inclusive playground?
Castle Rock is building a fully inclusive playground to ensure access for individuals with disabilities. 10.6% of people in Colorado have a disability. What is a disability? You might immediately think of persons that have prosthetic arms or use a wheelchair to get around. This is correct, but those examples only represent a small portion of this population. The CDC defines disability as any condition of the body or mind that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities and interact with the world around them.
Do you know someone with a disability? You might and not even realize it! There are several disabilities that are ‘hidden’ or ‘invisible’. One of my son’s classmates uses braces to help him walk. If he’s wearing pants, you might never know it. My cousin’s son has a heart defect and a sensory integration disorder. Just watching him out and about, you’d never suspect it. Persons that use hearing aids and cochlear implants often have vestibular difficulties that affect their balance. These are just a few examples of hidden disabilities.
Though disabilities can be present from birth or chronic, any one of us can become disabled – a car accident, a stroke, or just a fall down the stairs. Aging can (probably will!) bring on any of a number of disabilities.
What do disabilities have to do with our playgrounds?
Disabilities limit our interactions with our environment. For our children (and I’ll argue adults as well, but that’s a topic for another blog post!), a playground is one of the most important environments they have. Here in Castle Rock, we have some amazing parks and playgrounds, providing the opportunity to play for all our residents.
Play is important for so many reasons
- Physical exercise
- Social skills
- Positive mood
- Imagination and Creativity
- This list could go on and on
(in fact, it does, look for a blog post coming soon about the benefits of play!)
Currently, approximately 10% of our town residents are not able to access these benefits at our playgrounds fully. Mulch (rubber or wood) surfaces are impossible to traverse with a wheelchair or walker. Having only stairs, cargo nets, and rock-climbing walls to reach the top of a play structure prevents children with a broken leg from experiencing the joy of racing down a slide. Traditional spinning, swinging, or rocking elements often exclude children that need torso and/or head support.
Possibilities Playground at Butterfield Crossing Park will change all this for Castle Rock families. This new, fully inclusive, and innovative playground will have structures and elements that will allow children (and adults!) of all abilities to play TOGETHER. The Two Bay ZipKrooz (generously made possible by Edge Ziplines) allows two children to take the soaring ride side-by-side, even if one of them requires the harness for full support. The Friendship Swing (generously made possible by Bailey Massey at Speech Therapy Co) allows two people of any age, need, and size to sit face to face while enjoying the thrill of swinging high or low together. The We-Go-Round is a safe, updated version of a Merry-Go-Round that allows for more than one wheelchair as well as friends, siblings, or caregivers. It even has a roof for shade!
In addition to making play accessible to all our residents, Possibilities Playground will be a sensory haven for all individuals. The Sensory Wall allows individuals to experience different textures and patterns benefiting dexterity, visual skills, and sensory integration. This interactive spot also allows for great speech and language development opportunities as the children and friends or caregivers communicate about what they feel or see. The Roller Table allows for full body movement while providing deep-muscle pressure and vestibular integration. The Rhapsody Musical Instrument area (generously made possible by Dads of Castle Rock) is fully wheelchair accessible providing the power of sound, rhythm, and tone to all playground visitors.
Aside from the direct benefits to the families that live in our town, Possibilities Playground will add an economic edge to Castle Rock. Some may think that having physical disabilities would prevent or hinder individuals from traveling for recreation. To the contrary, in 2020, the Open Doors Organization reported that from 2018-2019, American adults with disabilities spent $58.7 billion dollars on their own travel (up from $34.6 billion in 2015). It is reasonable to assume that families with children with disabilities would be willing to travel as well, especially to a destination with attractions like Possibilities Playground. Those families will be introduced to Castle Rock in a warm and welcoming way, encouraging them to then support our small businesses when finding something to eat for lunch or adding a quick shopping trip to their day.
How can you help?
From now (July 2022) through September 2022, we have two goals: 1) to make sure every family in Castle Rock knows about Possibilities Playground and 2) to raise 1.3 million dollars to make Possibilities Playground the best it can be. You’ll see the Castle Rock Parks and Trails Foundation volunteers out and about at community events throughout the summer of 2022 spreading awareness and accepting tax-deductible donations. You can learn more about donating here. To become a corporate sponsor or contribute to a specific playground element, contact Marne Hansen at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also have trendy and comfortable tees for sale with proceeds going towards the playground, you can purchase them here. We look forward to seeing you and playing together soon!
Share with us!
Have you ever been to a playground with inclusive elements? What was your experience like? What are you most excited about in Possibilities Playground? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
Possibilities Playground at Butterfield Crossing Park is a priority for the Castle Rock Parks and Trails Foundation, an independent 501c3 that works to enhance Castle Rock’s parks and trails and maximize the community’s recreational experiences. Established in 2012, the Foundation is a resident-led advocacy group, brought together by their collective desire to create educational and enjoyable recreational experiences.