Mid-Michigan's first universally accessible playground will start construction this fall in Adado Riverfront Park in downtown Lansing.
"There are many playgrounds within our community that are accessible, meaning barrier-free to children who may have a disability of some kind, however, an entire playground to be universally accessible is so important because it means every single piece of equipment is accessible to all children no matter what their abilities might be," said Capital Region Community Foundation Executive Vice President Laurie Baumer.
The playground is a project of the Capital Region Community Foundation in partnership with the city of Lansing. It was carefully designed with input from the Disability Network, the Mid-Michigan Autism Association, and approximately 50 families who have children with disabilities were surveyed for input on the design. The park will be inclusive to those with not only physical disabilities but also sensory and developmental disabilities.
"There are sensory-seekers and sensory-avoiders," Baumer said. "So there are quiet spaces if it gets too overwhelming for them. But, for those that are sensory-seekers, there are games that they can play, there are tactile things, there are things that are musical...so, any form of stimulation at all levels is available.
She said the playground will have a ramp system that goes all the way around the equipment to accommodate people who use wheelchairs and walkers.
"The thing that gets me most excited about this playground is that it's not just like there are one or two pieces of equipment that are accessible, it's the entire playground accessible," she said. "So, you've got kids who may have a disability, playing right next to, side-by-side, kids who are more typical, who don't have as many challenges as maybe others do."
The project will also include a picnic deck, pavilion, dedicated barrier-free parking, and universal access to the river’s edge for picnicking and fishing. The estimated cost is $1,500,000. So far $700,000 has been raised, including $100,000 from CASE Credit Union's CASE Cares program. The Community Foundation is matching all donations.
"So, we're well on our way, but we do need more sponsors, and we have many naming opportunities. The community can donate to this project and we are in need of more donations. We have several other donations that are from individuals and donor couples, and we have one donation that has yet to be named, that hopefully, we'll be able to name them soon," Baumer said.
The hope is for the project to be completed by summer 2022.
To donate to the project, you can go here to make a donation online.
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