St. Cloud Commons Park in Huntington, WV, has recently been designated as an Inclusion National Demonstration Site focusing on inclusive play for all. This is the first fully inclusive playground in the state of West Virginia. They celebrated this new playground with a ribbon cutting on November 16, 2018.
The Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District (GHPRD) noticed a real need of an inclusive playground in West Virginia, with 25% of children between the ages of 5-21 in the immediate area having some type of disability. Currently, there are playgrounds that are ADA compliant, though not accessible for all users, so GHPRD researched what inclusive play really meant and worked to get an inclusive park for their community and other surrounding areas. The new playground provides equipment for people of all abilities, and includes cozy spaces, sensory play opportunities and a variety of interactive play activities at both elevated and ground level.
“It is the first of its kind in West Virginia. It is a National Demonstration Site and will be a destination for kids in about a 200-mile radius,” shares GHPRD Executive Director, Kevin Brady. “I hope this next generation will see beyond their differences and come to the playground to just play.”
The new playground was only the first phase of this project. After this year, the Park District hopes to start on phase two and three by expanding the parking lot, adding accessible restrooms and another section of play equipment that includes swings and more slides.
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 St. Cloud Commons 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 here.
For more information about this Playground visit www.ghprd.org
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