LANSING, Mich. — A playground designed to be accessible to children with disabilities is set to be built near Lansing’s riverfront.
“It’s so important for children who have challenges to feel like they can play with everyone,” said Laurie Baumer, the vice president of the Capital Region Community Foundation.
The foundation is partnering with local disability organizations to develop a universally accessible playground at the corner of Saginaw Street and Grand Avenue.
While most playgrounds follow Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, Cathy Blatnik says many still lack specific amenities some children need to comfortably use them.
“My son has autism, ADHD, epilepsy and anxiety disorder," sad Blatnik, the president of the Mid-Michigan Autism Association. "The best thing that a playground could have for someone that has sensory issues is a quiet space where it’s kind of away from everyone else because playgrounds can kind of be very loud and overwhelming.”
Mara Kaplan runs Let Kids Play, a consulting firm that helps communities, architects and manufacturers across the country design inclusive playgrounds. She says inclusive play spaces send a clear message for the towns and cities where they’re built.
“This is our community at work and we aren’t going to exclude anyone in our community whether that is a typically developing 10-year-old or an 8-year-old who uses a wheelchair or has Down syndrome," said Kaplan.
The Capital Region Community Foundation is conducting a survey to get community input on the design of the playground. Survey submissions are due by April 8.
Donations and fundraising have brought in $500,000 for the project, which will cost $1.5 million in total. The playground is scheduled to be complete in summer 2022.
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