By Sandy Gbur, Play for All Foundation Board Member and Executive Director of WDSRA
We believe inclusive play matters. Programs need to meet the diverse needs of all community members with or without disabilities. In this world of high tech and low touch, we really need to encourage families to get outside and play. While neighborhood parks can provide that opportunity, the Play for All Playground & Garden Foundation wanted to create a magical play space hidden away and surrounded by nature.
It starts the moment you pull up and see amazing interactive sculptures made out of recycled materials. Children love to point out the household items that were used to create the sculpture before walking down the path and being welcomed by a colorful archway. Again children delight in the familiar items they can identify in the horseshoe shape and see the mouthpiece just waiting for them to yell into to someone waiting at the other end.
Now you walk across the bridge, and what do you find? A play space hidden away in the trees. Being in the presence of natural landscapes tends to reduce stress and promote relaxation. You can feel the difference in your surroundings as you breathe in the sunshine and the smell of the forest. This playground is built and continues to be built to awaken all the senses.
There is a sound garden where the children can play the xylophone or drums and hear and feel the vibrations. There is a sensory garden with plants that feel, smell and look different. The rocking horses are a great playground piece for children to get out extra energy and pretend they are out in a pasture riding freely. The play panels engage them as they learn cause and effect by playing together. The cozy dome is a place where they can get away if overstimulated and calm themselves.
Each piece of the playground was selected specifically to help kids develop and have fun; learn to take turns and play alongside a new friend. The Sensory Garden Playground was built to offer a multisensory smorgasbord of seeing, hearing, touching and smelling which immerses children in a much grander world than they can get indoors. As part of the Play for All Playground & Garden Foundation, we strive to build a healthier community where all children have a place to play regardless of ability. Families can come and gather and support each other, and children of all abilities can come together to enjoy nature in a new way.