All Abilities Can Play at These Accessible Playgrounds in Southwest Michigan
Now more than ever it is important for kids to be just that--kids! Think back to all the countless memories you made while playing on the playground with your friends. Whether it be at school or the park, a carefree afternoon spent on the playground should be a part of every kid's childhood.
In an effort to be more inclusive to all kids and abilities, many "boundless" playgrounds have popped up in recent years. These inclusive playgrounds are meant to be a space where both children and adults of all ages and abilities can play and learn in an unencumbered and welcoming environment.
Though the terms "accessible", "inclusive", and "ADA compliant" playgrounds are often used interchangeably, these playground are usually characterized by:
- Having open and accessible pathways, including wheelchair ramps
- Play features that include those with hearing and visual impairments
- Elevated activity tables for those in wheelchairs
- Swings and play structures with back support
I was curious to know if we had any of these type of playgrounds here in west Michigan and according to the website AccessiblePlayground.net, we do!
Kalamazoo - Upjohn Park
Partially funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation‘s Able to Play project, the 18 acre park includes a boundless playground and Sway Fun Glider. It is important to note the park's surfaces use both pour-in-place rubber and wood mulch, which may make it more difficult to maneuver throughout the play area for those in wheelchairs.
Portage - Ramona Park
The playground at the back of Ramona Park has two play structures, one for older kids and one for kids ages 5-12. The playground has accessible features like Sway Fun Glider, Playmotion X-Wave 2, and bouncing bug toys for children to sit in.
Battle Creek - Bailey Park
The 80 acre park features the ANYbodies playground which is located near the baseball stadium. This boundless playground was partly funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and has a similar construction much like Kalamazoo's Upjohn Park meaning some surfaces may be difficult to maneuver with a wheelchair. ANYbodies features pull-through play structures, slides, and swings.
New Buffalo, MI - Welcome Center
If you've got some antsy kids as you're returning to or heading out on a long road trip, families are able to stop by the Welcome Center in New Buffalo and play on the town's boundless playground off I-94 east. If your travels take you further, there are plenty of websites like this one to help you find accessible parks along your route.