Public Meeting for Poly Vista Park–Tuesday, May 30th




Poly Vista Park Master Plan

The City of Billings Parks, Recreation and Public Lands is holding a public meeting to receive comments regarding the development of the Poly Vista Park Master Plan.  Residents are encouraged to attend this public forum to discuss the planning process, provide thoughts and ideas and express your opinions.  The meetings will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday May 30, 2017.  This meeting is open to the public and all interested parties are invited to attend.   The meetings will be held at the Lillis Chapel on the campus of St. John’s Lutheran Ministries located at 2429 Mission Way Billings, Montana.  More detailed information is available by contacting the Billings Parks and Recreation Department; Mark Jarvis, Park Planner, telephone number (406) 657-8367, e-mail:

Community input sought for Billings, MT Playground and Miracle League Field

Poly Vista Park to get Miracle League Field and Inclusive Playground

Come and share your thoughts!


Billings Parks, Recreation and Public Lands has hired Land Design Inc. to develop a master plan for Poly Vista Park.  With support from Landon Legacy and the local Kiwanis, the plan will incorporate a Miracle Baseball Field and an inclusive playground.

Billings Parks, Recreation and Public Lands, Land Design Inc., in corporation with Let Kids Play, a national expert on inclusive playspaces, will be holding two sessions to get input from the community.  We would especially like to hear from people with disabilities or parents who are raising children with disabilities.

Come and share with us your ideas, comments, greatest wishes


Wednesday, April 19th   at 6:30 pm 


Thursday, April 20th  at Noon

Billings Parks, Recreation and Public Lands–390 N. 23rd St. Billings, Room #2


Please RSVP to Mara Kaplan at Let Kids Play,  If you need any special accommodation, please contact Mara at least 24 hours prior to the meetings.

Please share with families and other interested parties.

Best Resources for Building an Inclusive Playground


Building a community inclusive playground takes a lot of people, knowledge and funds. The idea often starts with a group of dedicated volunteers and their first step is research. They want to know what is already out there, how to raise money, how to select a site, all of that before they even get to how to make it inclusive.

There is a lot of information out there on the internet but, you need to know what to look for and to determine what resources are worth your time. Today, I am going to narrow your search down by sharing with you some of my favorite sites and resources. Bookmark this page, so that you can come back to this list over and over again.

Getting Started

The best Inclusive Design Guidetool kit available for how to build a playground comes from KaBOOM!. KaBOOM provides you information on everything from testing soil, to keeping kids busy during a community build to public relations.

The best resource for inclusive playgrounds is the Inclusive Play Design Guide. To be transparent, I was involved in the development of this guide. However, I have not found anything else as comprehensive. It is published by Playworld, a playground manufacturer, but it is completely manufacturer neutral.


The best fundraising site I have found is Korkat Playground. You can download for free a 29 page book of national and state grant ideas. On their blog, they keep you updated on different grant opportunities and they have links to ideas for di
fferent fundraisers. They keep their information up-to-date and it is easy to read.

Other playground manufacturers also have lists of grants, including Playworld, Landscape Structures, and PlayCore.  All of these require that you sign up for their email list and/or contact a local representative to get the materials.

If you are a school, PTO Today has many good resources to help you plan fundraisers.

Understanding ADA

The Americans ADAwith Disability Act regulations for playgrounds are complicated; however, if you are building a playground with any of major playground ma
nufacturers they will make sure that your equipment will be compliant.

My favorite resource for ADA is an infographic from the International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association called the Checklist for Access.


To get the information directly from the source, visit the United States Access Board.


Surfacing is the biggest decision a group will make when building a playground and it isn’t an easy decision.  Here are the best places to go and learn about your options.

The International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association has a document about surfacing that is easy to read and understand.

The National Center for Accessibility did a longitudinal research study on playground surfacing. Their final report is available to download. If you don’t want to read the entire study, the Access Board has used this research to put together, “Seven Things Every Playground Owner Should Know About the Accessibility of Their Playground Surfaces”,

SofSURFACES, a playground surfacing manufacturer, has many good articles about surfacing, just keep in mind that they are trying to sell you a product.

Getting Ideas from Existing Playgrounds

Looking at pictures is the best way to get interesting ideas for playgrounds and for pictures, Pinterest is a great resource., which is my website, has a directory of close to a 1,000 playgrounds from around the world. We have tried to put at least one picture with each playground.  You can search for the ones nearest you to go and visit.

Other websites that have directories include, KaBOOM’s Map of Play,Playground Professionals, Calgary Playground Review, NJ Playgrounds,ParkGrades, and Playgrounds for Everyone.


Originally published on Playground Professionals March 2016.

Fundraising Ideas for accessible playgrounds

Lately, there has been a whole bunch of interesting fundraising projects happening around the country.  Grab a great new idea and share with us what you have been doing to raise funds.

In the Chicago Area, the Lincolnshire Special Recreation Area help a jumpfest.  They sent up 7 inflatables and kids paid a $10 fee to jump for as long as they wanted.  If you want information on how they did it email http:jump// or call (815) 603-4377. For more information about the Lincolnway Special Recreation Association, call (815) 320-3500 or visit

Speaking of jumping, Carly’s Clubhouse in Alabama, held a special Valentine’s Day Parent’s Night Out. Parents could drop their children off at Pump It Up.  The kids got to play in the inflatable area, watch a movie and play games, eat donated pizza and there was plenty of Pump It up employees supervising the event.  It cost $25 per child.

Carly’s Clubhouse also held a concert called “A night of legends”.  Elvis, Patsy Cline, Aretha Franklin impersonators took the stage for the evening.  There was children’s activities, a cash bar, and a great raffle. The concert was free but donations were collected and they raised $10,000.  For more information, visit

A group in Teaneck, NJ are raising money for an accessible sprayground, was the reciepent of the funds raised by the  Teaneck Women’s Soccer League’s annual charity soccer game.  They also have put donation boxes in local stores and have plans for a spring Zumba fundraiser.  For more information, email or visit

Clifford Bowey Public School in Ottawa has rallied the community in a variety of ways to support their new playground.  They won a contest with the highest number of votes.  They also had a swim-a-thon and a community dinner with a silent auction. To learn more, visit To view Lambert-Tocchi’s video taken the day the school learned it won the Aviva Community Fund prize, visit

Accessible Installations Are Popping up in Some Unusual Places

child with autism playing a Freenotes instrument
I’m amazed at how well he responded and engaged with the instruments,” says the mother of this boy with autism

Enhancing physical and mental development through the exploration of sound, Freenotes outdoor musical instruments are accessible to kids with physical and developmental disabilities. Only the simplest motor skills are needed to activate pure harmonies, ensuring musical success for all players.

Surprisingly delightful, these interactive outdoor musical instruments challenge the imagination by stimulating creativity.  Freenotes Harmony Park offers a musical experience for all through a specially designed ensemble of percussion instruments.  Doubling as public art sculptures all instruments play together and any combination of notes are pleasing. No matter one’s developmental level, Freenotes instruments make it possible for everyone to create beautiful music.

In 2010 Freenotes Harmony Park worked with the Parker Arts and Cultural Events Center (PACE) in Parker, Colorado  to install eight instruments in a public courtyard outside the building.  The PACE Center demonstrates the Town of Parker’s commitment to public art.  It was built to increase cultural offerings, create a community-gathering place and enhance the downtown area.  Freenotes was in fact, the first to be approved by the “Art in Public Places Committee”.

Visitor Center, City of Sedona, Arizona Chamber of Commerce
Visitor Center, City of Sedona, Arizona Chamber of Commerce

The City of Sedona, Arizona also launched a public art initiative to rival Santa Fe in 2011. “Music Lives Here” is an inscription chiseled into the sandstone rock next to a brand new grouping of Harmony Park instruments. A bold installation by the city of Sedona these outdoor instruments are permanently placed on Main Street at the Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center.

Sedona Mayor Rob Adams made a special visit to play the first notes and to show his appreciation. “This is an amazing thing you are doing for our community. Freenotes instruments are a wonderful contribution to our efforts to become a city animated by the arts.”

Freenotes have found their way into installations around the world. In December of 2013 Freenotes opened as an exhibit illustrating the physics and mathematics of sound at the entrance of the Ross Perot Science Museum, Dallas, Texas.

The benefits of Freenotes Harmony Park instruments are manifold. They invite participation from individuals as well as groups to explore, learn and create.  Playing music transcends all boundaries of age, ethnicity, gender and physicality

Entrance of the Ross Perot Science Museum, Dallas, Texas.
Entrance of the Ross Perot Science Museum, Dallas, Texas.

helping to build stronger communities.


ADA Approved and Other Accessible Product Myths for your Park

Choosing Products to Improve Access at Your Parks & Facilities


National Center on Accessibility
National Center on Accessibility, Indiana University-Bloomington

Choosing products for use in a park or recreation facility can sometimes be challenging and overwhelming with the overload of information from manufacturers and accessibility guidelines to consider.   This monograph introduces the major considerations for purchasing products to improve access for people with disabilities in recreation environments including:

  • Assessing the needs of your facility;
  • Identifying specifications;
  • Comparison shopping;
  • Getting feedback from other customers; and
  • Leveraging your purchasing power.

Before selecting a specific product, facility managers, program coordinators, maintenance staff, essentially all site personnel, should have a thorough understanding of the two types of access: physical access to the environment and program access benefitting the individual.

Read rest of the article from the National Center of Accessibility

National Center on Accessibility (August 2010). Choosing Products to Improve Access at Your Parks and Facilities.. Bloomington, IN: National Center on Accessibility, Indiana University-Bloomington.  Retrieved

YMCA builds field of dreams for children of all abilities

The Greater Kansas City YMCA provides everything a child with disabilities needs to get moving.

kansas city y

The  Fred and Shirley Pryor YMCA Challenger Sports Complex  provides athletic fields without barriers. The Fred and Shirley Pryor YMCA Challenger Sports Complex is designed for young athletes with physical, developmental and intellectual disabilities, and includes the only all-accessible fields in the Kansas City area.

The complex consists of the Mark Teahen Challenger Baseball Field, the Trent Green Family Field, American Family Insurance Field and an accessible playground. The first phase opened in fall 2010 and the Trent Green Family Field and accessible playground debuted in the fall of 2013.

Facilities at the complex offer a number of accommodations for wheelchairs, walkers and those unsteady on their feet including:

  • A synthetic rubber surface with flat bases on the baseball field for wheelchairs and other mobility devices.
  • A dugout with no stairs or curbs.
  • Synthetic grass turf for soccer and flag football offering a level, flat surface.
  • A playground with ramps, accessible equipment, gliders, pods specially designed to appeal to children on the autism spectrum, a smooth rubber surface and other accessible features.
  • A fully accessible parking lot with no curbs going into the complex.
  • Fully accessible restrooms.

See pictures of the dedication and grand opening of the playground.

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 International Playground Directory is still offering its detailed directory has been offering a directory of inclusive and accessible playgrounds for 5 years.  In fact, a majority of the playgrounds listed on the NPR app were generated by In our directory there are over 800 entries from 8 different countries.  We continue to add more every day.  (We add over a dozen this weekend).

The difference between our directory and the new NPR directory is that we provide as much detail as we can find about the playground.  If we can determine it, from the resources we can find, we will tell you what else is in the park, whether there is a restroom, what type of equipment is on the playground.  We provide links for you to find more information.

Just like NPR’s app, you can add a playground that you know about to our directory.  The difference is we will review the entry to make sure the information is correct prior to going live on the site.  We hope that you will help us keep the directory as up-to-date as possible by providing us with new playgrounds and additional information about the playgrounds already listed.

Visit the Directory

Add a Playground

A Response to NPR: Accessible Playgrounds

I hope all of you heard or read NPR articles on accessible playgrounds.  Let Kids Play was pleased to have provided background information to the reporter working on the story.  It is great that NPR has brought attention to the issue of playgrounds for everyone.  After reading the comments on the story, I wanted to address some of the issues that have been raised by the articles.

It does not cost more to follow ADA

It is now the law that any new playground installed in a public space in the United States must be built to ADA standards.  Playgrounds built to these standards cost NO more than a playground built prior to 2012.  At this point in would be impossible to purchase playground equipment from a United States manufacturer without it meeting ADA.  However, there is a difference between a playground that is ADA compliant and one that is truly accessible.’s playground directory only lists those playgrounds that exceed ADA.

There is a difference between ADA, Accessible and Inclusive

There is a difference between a playground that is ADA compliant, truly accessible and truly inclusive.  ADA, when it comes to playgrounds, is primarily concerned with people using mobility devises.  When a playground is built to ADA standards it lets a person who is using a wheelchair get in and around the playground.  It enables that person to get on a module structure.  It doesn’t necessarily enable that child to actually use any of the playground equipment.

An accessible playground goes beyond ADA compliance.  A truly accessible playground will enable a person using a wheelchair to use the equipment.  An accessible playground will have better surfacing enabling a person using a wheelchair to maneuver through the playground easier.  It may have playground pieces that children with autism enjoy—things that move and/or make music.  There may be quiet places for children to go and calm down.  There may be pieces like an accessible swing seat and back to see-saws to enable a child with limited body support to enjoy this type of movement.

An inclusive playground goes beyond an accessible one in that it is designed to encourage children of all abilities to play with one another. This playground is one where every child who goes to the playground is challenged at their level.  It is a playground that may have pieces like an accessible glider which enables a person using a wheelchair to experience movement, along with all of their typically developing peers.

It is all about the surfacing

It is the surfacing that can increase the cost of a playground.  Safety regulations require that every playground have a safety surface.  That surface can by loose fill or synthetic.  Wood chips, (called Engineered Wood fiber by the industry), is the least expensive surfacing that provides safety and meets ADA.  Here are the problems with wood chips:

  • If the wood chips get deplenished, it is no longer safe.
  • If the wood chips are not raked on a regular basis, they no longer meet ADA
  • It is difficult, if not impossible, to push a wheelchair or stroller through wood chips
  • Young children and some children with developmental disabilities will pick up the chips and mouth it
  • It gets tracked everywhere including into the nearby buildings (like a school) and drives the maintenance staff crazy.

So there issues beyond accessibility to consider when looking to purchase the more expensive surfacing.  Everyone agrees that synthetic surfaces are easier for a person in a wheelchair to maneuver.  There are basically three types of synthetic surfaces, Pour-in-Place (which is what is described in the NPR articles), tiles and turf.  There are advantages and disadvantages for all.  When a community or school is making a decision about surfacing they should ask tons of questions about ADA compliance, HIC ratings (safety), freezing, and more.  Here are some places to read more:


All Inclusive Playground DO NOT need to be 15,000 sq. ft and $250,000+

I love Leathers and Associate playgrounds like Brooklyn’s Playground which was highlighted on NPR.  They are creative, fun and challenging.  They are big destination playgrounds.  They make a great community asset.  However, they are not appropriate for every community and every park.

You can make any playground more inclusive by laying out the equipment in a more effective way and selecting the equipment with an eye to inclusive.  The Inclusive Play Design Guide gives you many different ways to increase inclusion.

To do it right, you do need to spend the extra money on surfacing; but again, any size playground can have this surfacing.  Adding more ground level activities such as spinners, musical instruments, see-saws makes the playground more exciting for all kids and makes it more usable by children with a disability. Water and sand play can also be added in a small area and are fun for all ages and abilities.

Inclusive Playgrounds DO NOT need to be boring

I have seen plenty of boring accessible playgrounds; playgrounds with a lot of ramps and not a lot of challenge.  But is not what it should be like.  A good inclusive playground has activities that challenge 5-year-olds and 12-year-olds; has activities that are usable by children who use mobility devises and those who do not.  A good inclusive playground is rich in sensory activities, social experiences and physical play.  Here are just a few pictures of exciting inclusive playgrounds.

See more pictures on our Pinterest Page will still be offering its detailed directory has been offering a directory of inclusive and accessible playgrounds for 5 years.  In fact, a majority of the playgrounds listed on the NPR app were generated by In our directory there are over 800 entries from 8 different countries.  We continue to add more every day.  (We add over a dozen this weekend).

The difference between our directory and the new NPR directory is that we provide as much detail as we can find about the playground.  If we can determine it, from the resources we can find, we will tell you what else is in the park, whether there is a restroom, what type of equipment is on the playground.  We provide links for you to find more information.

Just like NPR’s app, you can add a playground that you know about to our directory.  The difference is we will review the entry to make sure the information is correct prior to going live on the site.  We hope that you will help us keep the directory as up-to-date as possible by providing us with new playgrounds and additional information about the playgrounds already listed.


Want to learn more?  Visit these sites: