Bartlett Park in St. Joseph, MO, has recently been designated as an Inclusion National Demonstration Site focusing on inclusive play. The new play area officially opened October 25 at Bartlett Park, to create a place that allows people of all abilities to play together in an environment that is compliant, fun, creative, and accessible.
The inspiration initially came in 2013, from an idea from Lynn Smith, Executive Director of Progressive Community Services, and her board of directors. She met with the parks department to suggest building a significant inclusive playground at Bartlett Park, the third largest park, centrally located in St. Joseph. The Parks Department formed a citizen’s committee, consisting of people with knowledge and/or involvement with people with disabilities to provide input on the playground design and proposal process.
The dream became a reality under new parks administration in 2017, when they received funding from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Land & Water Conservation, the St. Joseph Capital Improvement Program, the Aiden McVicker Foundation & from Firefighters Local 77.
“The St. Joseph Parks, Recreation, & Civic Facilities Department is proud to offer a modern, safer, fun, creative, and inclusive space for people of all abilities at the new Bartlett Park playground,” says Chuck Kempf, Parks Director.
The playground’s design is focused around the 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design®, as outlined in Me2®, a program developed in partnership with PlayCore and Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities. The program provides an overview of why inclusion is so important, helpful research to help stakeholders understand diversity, inclusion, and social equity, and tips for designing inclusive play environments that benefit the whole child, whole environment, and whole community.®
To continue to celebrate Bartlett Park’s commitment to advancing play and recreation through best practices, the park will receive a certificate of recognition, become a part of a network of potential research sites, and will be promoted actively to other communities wishing to create recreation spaces using design and/or programming. To locate the new site, and other National Demonstration Sites, check out www.playcore.com/nds/map.