Cedar Falls, IA, where I grew up, is known for a few things, UNI, the Gallagher. But after this past summer, the town is known for one more thing.
A couple of weeks ago more than 500 people showed up for the ribbon-cutting for Place to Play Park on the corner of Algonquin and Ashworth ST in Cedar Falls, IA. The park is the first fully adaptive park in Iowa.
The Park was designed by the Cedar Falls Public Works and Parks Division and friends of the project worked with Ritland+Kuiper Landscape Architects in Waterloo and were designed for children and families with physical, mental and social disabilities. Before the park was redesigned it was getting complaints as it had uneven ground, wood chips and rock making it difficult for people with disabilities to get around and enjoy a day at the park.
The park features a zip line with an adaptive option, a large adaptive "Oodle" swing, a slid on a hill surrounded by a padded ground should anyone fall. A place to Play Park also features a sensory garden, a quiet area, and a fence that surrounds the whole park. The park also has a communication board built and donated by Talk to Me Technologies in Cedar Falls that allows nonverbal children to point to a picture that signifies what they want or needs. The park has 100% accessible restrooms and parking as well.
Money to revamp the park was donated. It is said that one person donated $20,000 and another donated $80,000. The children also played a big part in raising money for the park. They raised $13,000 selling hand-made bracelets and holding birthday parties where donations were collected instead of gifts. Some contractors also stepped up to help, intentionally bidding low to save money and get the park built. Matt Ackerson from Ackerson Masonry in Cedar Falls donated his time to pour the concrete and added stonework.
The park has been getting great reviews so far with one user saying they no longer feel like they are on "pins and needles" like before.
Amanda Weichers and Sarah Corkery, users of the park and the ones behind it, say they want adaptive parks to be the rule rather than the exception. The pair got the idea 5 years ago after watching The Today Show where an all-inclusive park was featured in Oregon.
“This just wants we wanted. You look out and see kids with disabilities playing alongside with kids without disabilities,” Corkery said. “It’s just how it should be.”
Image credit: http://ritlandkuiper.com/images/birds%20eye_hq-crop-u238510.jpg?crc=460276065