EXPLORE Inclusive Playground welcomed their new 22,000 square foot, inclusive playground to Hoover, Alabama with a grand opening on May 1, 2019. The playground is designed to provide children of all abilities with fun ways to play and reconnect with nature.
In November 2017, Mayor Brocato loved the proposed idea of building “the biggest and best playground that is open for play for people of all abilities.” Hoover has numerous playgrounds throughout the city limits, however, there was nothing like this project. They held brainstorming days, lunches with napkins drawings and visits to over 15 playgrounds between Hoover, AL and Omaha, NE. There were many conversations and gathering of input from user groups, school children and service providers to make sure EXPLORE went beyond ADA requirements. This playground took best practices in design and function to a whole new level.
The construction began August 2018 and was completed by May 2019. The community is looking forward to a large, safe, colorful environment that is inclusive and accessible where people of all abilities can participate. The playground includes a multi-level, accessible treehouse, accessible musical instruments, sensory play activities, along with multiple swings, slides, and climbers. The entire play space is covered in poured-in-place rubber surfacing allowing for accessibility for everyone. Lastly, there is a first of their kind American Sign Language tiles at the entrance. These handmade tiles are on the ground and greet visitors with “Welcome to EXPLORE.”
Local residents are already calling about spaces for parties, bringing camp groups, church groups, and day programs. “We are excited to open the universally designed destination EXPLORE playground at Hoover Met Complex in Hoover, Alabama,” shares Dee Nance, Community Service Officer.
PlayCore recognizes EXPLORE Inclusive Playground as an Inclusion, NatureGrounds, and Play On! National Demonstration Site following design best practices outlined in “Me2 ®: 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design ®,” “NatureGrounds ®: Putting Nature into Play,” and “Play On! ®: Promoting Physical Activity & Fitness Through Active Play.” To continue to celebrate EXPLORE’s commitment to advancing play and recreation through best practices, the schools 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.