A visit to Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Playground–an inclusive playground in London



I had the pleasure of visiting England with my husband this summer. Because this trip was about “playing” for us, and taking time off from work, we went to more history museums and WWII memorials than we did playgrounds. Before leaving, I had asked around to see if there were any playgrounds in London that I shouldn’t miss while I was there.

The answer from many people was the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Playground. The playground, located in Kensington Gardens opened in 2000 to rave reviews. Today 750,000 children visit the playground each year. In fact, if you are planning to go with children, be prepared to stand in line to get in. If you are an adult without children (like us this trip), you can only visit from 9:30 – 10:00 prior to the playground opening.

The playground’s theme is Peter Pan, as J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, funded an earlier playground on this site. The focal point of the commemorative playground is an intricately detailed pirate ship, moored aground in a sea of fine white sand. Children up to the age of twelve can clamber up the rigging all the way to the crow’s nest, turn the giant wheel, explore the cabins, and tug on myriad pulleys and ropes. The mermaid fountains and rocky out-crops allow children to splash around in water and cool down. Beyond the land of pirates lies the tepee camp. There is also the tree house encampment with walkways slung between trees and ladders and slides.

With this build up, I was very excited about visiting the playground.

Read rest of the review


Ireland adds new Inclusive Playground!

The Alton Town Council decided that if their policy is to include recreation for all children, they needed to develop playspaces that enable children with disabilities to play along side their peers.  The new playgrounds includes four seat see-saws, balancing beams, a hammock swing and a wheelchair swing.  There is also a merry-go-round’, call installation and sound play as well as a sensory garden to allow children who are visually impaired to identify flowers through smell.

Enjoy these two videos that show the playground in action:


Emerald Fields one of two Inclusive Playgrounds in Dublin, OH

Entrance to the ramped structure at emerald fields, an inclusive playground

In Dublin, Ohio families have the choice of two very different inclusive playgrounds.  This week we are highlighting Emerald Fields and next week we will highlight the playground at the Miracle League Field.

The City of Dublin built Emerald Fields Playground, a universally accessible playground, with grant money awarded by the state. While the play area is designed for children with special needs, children of all physical-skill levels, from toddlers through elementary school-aged kids love to play here.

At the entrance of the playground is a NEOS 360. This giant circular play station incorporates lights and music to test eye-ear-hand-foot coordination, and cardio levels. NEOS is fun for young children as well as teenagers and adults. It is designed to make it easy for people who use wheelchairs to play alongside their friends.

According to Kristen Maetzold in Columbus Parents, Playground Patrol, “Those skills will serve kids well as they move on to the sprawling playground. Like a life-sized game of Chutes & Ladders, generous purple ramps and bridges connect a bevy of brightly colored slides and various climbing structures. Tucked underneath it all is a series of fun games that test knowledge of numbers, shapes, colors, and patience, including a brilliantly designed scavenger hunt.”

The playground has other sensory activities including a teeter-totter, spin cup, music station, places to balance and bounce, even the chance to climb a rope ladder or a rock wall.

For children who love to swing, this is the place to come. No waiting in line to get a swing in this park where there are a dozen swings! In addition to the belt seat swings, there are toddler swings and accessible swing seats to ensure everyone can have the pleasure of swinging.

The playground was designed and installed by Playworld Midstates, a leader in inclusive design using  equipment from Playworld Systems.

Here are children playing at Emerald Fields on its grand opening day:

DCVB – Emerald Fields Park from Dublin, Ohio, USA on Vimeo.


You can see great pictures of two children exploring the playground on Beatrice and Augustus’s blog.


The playground is located at 4040 Wyandotte Woods Blvd. (near the intersection of Sawmill and Hard roads) in Dublin, OH.  See map:
View Larger Map



Raleigh, NC home to inclusive, boundless playground at Marsh Creek

The Marsh Creek Park Playground located off of New Hope Road between the Buffalo Road and Marsh Creek Road stoplights in Raleigh, NC, was built to be accessible and “barrier free”, implementing wide, gradual sidewalks and a seamless poured-in-place rubber play surface.

The play area includes some interesting elements that stimulate sight and hearing. The design of the playground is geared around exploring senses, with lots of interactives for sound. In addition, herbs such as mint, sage and rosemary  have been planted near the play area to arouse  sense of smell.

The playground was constructed with the help of two $20,000 grants. One was from the All Kids Can program of the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust in cooperation with Boundless Playgrounds, Inc. The other grant came from Wake County and Eat Smart, Move More NC.

[pb_slides group=”33″]


Here is a good listing of 10 accessible play activities to do in Raleigh.



Kids Cove at Mount Trashmore invites all children to play together

Kids Cove Playground at Mount Trashmore Park at Virginia Beach opened in 2010. At nearly 26,000 square feet, the playground is comprised of three distinct play areas built on a rubber surface: a giant play structure that includes a multitude of slides, elevated walkways, climbers and more; an area that has swings for all ages; and an area comprised of a variety of climbing structures. Benches and picnic shelters are available throughout the playground.  See pictures of the playground’s construction.

[pb_slides group=”32″]


World Renowned Mount Trashmore Park encompasses 165 acres and is comprised of two man-made mountains, two lakes, two playgrounds, a skate park and vert ramp, and multi-use paths. The main mountain, Mount Trashmore, now 60 feet in height and 800 feet long, was created by compacting layers of solid waste and clean soil. Recognized for its environmental feat, this former land fill features a water-wise garden that boasts xeriscaping, where you can enjoy a beautiful garden that requires minimal water.

The park also features a smaller mountain, Encore Hill, and two lakes.

  • Lake Windsor (located along South Blvd.) is brackish water fed by Thalia Creek.
  • Lake Trashmore (located along Edwin Drive) is freshwater and hosts various species of fish.


Athletes, high school students and non-profits come together to build new inclusive playground

Reading, Pennsylvania has a new feature that is providing more kids with more opportunities to do what they do best – be a kid! IM ABLE Foundation, Opportunity House, Gilmore – Henne Community Fund and Berks Youth in Action came together to provide recreation for children with and without disabilities – all in one place.

Located at the Opportunity House, the new  adaptive playground in Reading is available to children throughout the county.

Chris Kaag, Founder and Executive Director of IM ABLE Foundation led the fundraising efforts to move the playground forward. The U.S. Marine and wheelchair user is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys mountain biking, skiing, and kayaking. He wants to change how people perceive people with disabilities and encourage people, including kids with disabilities to push themselves beyond their pre-conceived limitations and discover more possibilities for living well.

“I don’t want kids to think that just because they have a disability that they have to sit around and do nothing,” said Kaag.

Kaag was successful in his fundraising efforts.  Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne, who co-founded the Gilmore/Henne Community Fund along with  fellow NFL player and former Wilson High School star John Gilmore helped to support the new endeavor.  The two local football players joined in with the hundreds of volunteers who built the playground.

Berks Youth in Action (BYIA), a group of high school students from three local schools raised $65,000 for the playground through special events like dances and corporate sponsorships. “We got involved when we approached IM ABLE and decided to partner with them. Never did we think we’d be so successful and able to build such an amazing playground,” says Betsy Finneran, a BYIA coordinator.  Read more..

“This playground is a unique opportunity for children of all abilities to come and play together as equals,” said Kaag. “We have about 10 to 15 pieces of equipment that accommodate individuals with physical and sensory disabilities. Through some research, we found that the city of Reading has a good portion of kids with autism, so we kept that in mind during the design of the playground too.”

Some of the equipment at the new playground includes, but is not limited to:

An Omni Spinner, which features spinning action with easy access and a secure ride for children of all abilities. It offers vestibular sensory stimulation (sense of balance) and social interactive play.

children with autism enjoy the omni spinner in this accessible playground

There is also a Sensory Play Roller Table™ which provides kids much needed sensory stimulation, through the application of deep-muscle pressure, from the steel rollers.

Roller table in inclusive playground

The Sway Fun holds 8 people, including two children who use wheelchairs.  It features rocking and gliding action.

children with and without disabilities enjoy the sway fun at this inclusive playground

The Rain Wheel offers soothing sounds of rain, a visual appeal, and can assist with dexterity.  The Rain Sound Wheel and Color Wheel which allows children to work on their dexterity while also providing an opportunity for hearing and visual input.

Rain sound wheel provides auditory stimulation

Additionally, the playground is surfaced with a rubber that is a safety feature, as it helps cushion falls and stumbles and reduces the chance of serious injury.

“I think this playground helps show kids with a disability what is actually available to them,” says Kaag.

The equipment is from Landscape Structures.  The project design and installation was overseen by General Recreation.  You can read more about the project in General Recreation’s newsletter.

Other inclusive playgrounds in Louisville, KY

This concludes the features on inclusive playgrounds in Louisville, KY.  Here is where you can find all of the different playgrounds:

  • Iroquois Park 5216 New Cut Rd., 40214  (Taylor Boulevard and Southern Parkway)
  • Shawnee Park 5216 New Cut Rd., 40214 (Taylor Boulevard and Southern Parkway)
  • Des Pas Park 4709 Lowe Rd., 40220 Lowe Road off Taylorsville Road
  • Petersburg Park 5008 E Indian Trail, 40218 (Indian Trail west of Newburg Road)
  • The Big Rock Area of Cherokee Park 745 Cochran Hill Rd., 40206 (playground is partially accessible)
  • Frazier Rehab Hospital (not open to the public)

Pictures of Big Rock Playground:

[pb_slides group=”27″]



Summer of 2012 sees new inclusive playground at Petersburg Park in Louisville, KY

The latest inclusive playground in Louisville, KY is in Petersburg Park and it is this week’s featured playspace.  Be sure to see the last couple of weeks “Playgrounds of the Week” to see the rest of the accessible playgrounds in Louisville.

Gathering with dozens of children, park supporters and city officials, Mayor Greg Fischer in the summer of 2012 dedicated a new playground at Petersburg Park in the Newburg neighborhood of Louisville, KY. Designed with elements that allow children of all physical abilities to play together, it was built through a partnership between Louisville Metro Parks and the DREAM Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to assisting children with physical disabilities, and their families.

The inclusive playground provides a ramp to the play deck, allowing easy access for wheelchair users, and a Sway Fun. Other elements include sensory and musical panels and other activities. Rubber surfaces throughout the playground also make it easier for wheelchairs or those who might require the assistance of a crutch or walker. The playground is adjacent to a sprayground which opened at the park in 2010.

This “play together” playground is the fourth such playground built in a Metro Park in partnership with the DREAM Foundation. Others are at Shawnee Park in western Louisville, Iroquois Park in Louisville’s south end, and Des Pres Park in eastern Louisville.

Petersburg Park is a 28-acre park in the Newburg neighborhood located off Indian Trail in southeastern Louisville. The park contains an exercise trail, ballfields, tennis courts, a stage, a playground and sprayground.

DREAM (Duchenne Research Education and Miracle Foundation) was founded in Louisville in 1998 by Mitch and Meredith Barnes in honor of their son Mitchell. DREAM is dedicated to assisting children with physical disabilities, and their families. DREAM is focused on raising funds and public awareness for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. One of DREAM’s goals is also to raise funds for scholarships to educate pediatric physicians and for its “Play Together” Playground Project.


Frazier Rehab in Louisville, KY home to accessible playground

The DREAM Foundation in partnership with Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s Healthcare, has developed a playground area for Frasier Rehab Institute.  The DREAM Foundation is a community partner in this playground project and consulted with rehab specialists on the playground design and equipment.  The playground area consists of rehab sensitive play equipment and terrain that can be utilized by all children but especially by children with special physical needs.

For kids, everyday playtime activities can be therapeutic. As an extension of the innovative therapies performed indoors, Frazier Rehab also offers their pediatric patients this accessible outdoor playground that provides a natural environment for therapeutic activities. Children and parents can play together, and therapists can provide activities in this setting to help the child achieve goals toward recovery.

To see a virtual tour of the playground, click here.  You will need Java to view the file; download it here.

Shawnee Park in Louisville, KY is home to an inclusive playground

Shawnee Playground is the second inclusive playground in Louiseville, KY that accessibleplayground.net is featuring.  Once again it was built through the efforts of a partnership between the Dream Foundation, Olmstead Parks Conservancy, and Louiseville Metro Parks .  The playground was built in a similar design to the playground in Iroquois Park.  In this playground, the splash play area was designed in the form of a riverboat with spraying “smokestacks” and “waterwheels” and includes a concrete “wave wall” at the perimeter of the play area.  The playground is a multi-dimensional area complete with swing sets, slides and shaded areas.

Shawnee Park is one of 18 parks designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and his firm.

“Frederick Law Olmsted’s objective for all his parks was that all people, regardless of differences, could benefit from everything that parks offer. This “play together” playground would make Mr. Olmsted smile. We’re delighted to help bring this project to life,” said Mimi Zinniel, director of the Olmsted Parks Conservancy.

The new playground/sprayground uses a series of ramps allowing easy access for wheelchair users. The ramps take users to upper playground decks for access to those play elements. There is also a large boat-type element on the playground that can accommodate up to eight people sitting and two wheelchairs.

Rubber surfaces throughout the playground also make it easier for wheelchairs or those who might require the assistance of a crutch or walker. In the splash play area, the sounds of water will stimulate the senses of visually impaired children. The sprayground celebrates Shawnee Park’s relationship with and proximity to the Ohio River.

[pb_slides group=”30″]

The playground was designed by Environs Landscape Architects with equipment from Landscape Structures.