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[personal profile] bairnsidhe
 So I stopped by the park near my therapist's office on Monday, and WOW.  This is by far the best small neighborhood park I've ever seen.  For starters, it's accessible.

That's right, a park, like with play equipment and swings and stuff, is HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE.  There's a wheelchair ramp built into the climbing equipment so that people with mobility issues can reach at least half if not 90% of the play area that's above ground level.  It's not a huge ugly metal thing that gets in the way, either, it's just a neat concrete gangway sandwiched between the Pirate Ship and the Jungle Gym.  Also for those in wheelchairs is an arm-runner, one of those pedal-like contraptions placed at eye level with an adult sitting in a chair, that you can use to work out your arms.  Except, instead of being grey and medical-looking, it's bright yellow like the Jungle Gym and I saw able-seeming kids using it while standing, because it was treated like any other part of the park.

Speaking of treating accessibility like you'd treat anything else, you know those letter-boards that some Jungle Gyms have, to help kids learn the alphabet?  This park had one that was doubled below the letters in Braille.  The letters were nicely tactile, too, so feeling up the wall seemed perfectly normal.  Add to that the fact that the entrance had animal-shaped statues signing the letters W-E-L-C-O-M-E, and it felt like this was the sort of playground you find on Sesame Street.

(Actually, it felt like the sort of playground you'd find in the Terramagne setting by [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith .)

Also, the park had two structures that introduce improved social play and age-appropriate risk.  One was a three-way spring horse teeter-totter, which yes, you can use alone, but it's more balanced with two or three.  I miss spring horses, they kept getting removed in the push to kid-proof parks, and I think that's ridiculous.  A certain amount of risk, falling off play equipment, and learning not to stick body parts in machinery because we all know what happened to Jimmy's cousin's best friend, is good for kids.  But I digress.  The last structure was the best, it was a tilted circle, on which you sat and it rotated.  One person couldn't get it going that fast, but the more people, the better it worked, especially when two or more adult-sized folks got on it with the kids to maintain speed.  People fell off, it's made for that, but the ground cover was a nicely squashy rubber affair that would prevent most broken bones, and the way it was designed, you can't get dragged under.  No more the above-age-appropriate-risk of the metal merry-go-round, this sucker made you stop when your friend fell under it.  You had to stop and help the out to get to make it go again.  Isn't that great socialization?

(Again, shades of Terramagne.)

Next time I go, I'm going to bring a bucket of sidewalk chalk.  Because I think it's the sort of park where nobody will think me walking up with chalk and a request for hopscotch is that strange.  I might even chalk out the word for welcome in other languages besides English and ASL under the statues.


It's a really great park.




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