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A Playground for Everyone !

From an article in the WYDaily

Buy a brick, get a park.

myplace Fundraising continues for a new James City County playground that’s designed for everyone, literally.

The My Place campaign, in a collaborative effort by Leadership Historic Triangle and The Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance, will tentatively begin construction in May of 2009.

Click here to find out how you can help with MyPlace

My Place will be a 5,100 square foot playground built under shade of trees outside the James City/Williamsburg Community Center. My Place will be not only accessible to all, but usable by all as part of a universal design concept.

“With universal design all elements are designed to be used by everyone,” says Bondy Gibson, York County Schools Director of Student Affairs. Gibson is working with parents of students with disabilities, taking ideas for the park from those who know first-hand.

“For example, a sandbox elevated to allow clearance for a wheelchair makes it universal,” she says.
The ongoing fundraising events are just as diverse as the activity stations planned for the site.

According to Adam Nash, the group’s fundraising chair, the goal is slowly but surely getting closer. Of the $133,000 needed, the group’s about 40 percent there, he says.

A $50 donation earns a brick, which can be personalized before it is used in the foundation.
“The biggest expense is pouring the rubberized surface the park will sit on,” says Nash.

On March 1 Great Wolf Lodge will open their indoor water park without need for reservations. All proceeds from admission will go to the construction effort.

Originally pegged as the only public play area between Richmond and Newport News that’s compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, it’s actually the only one with a universal design.

“All playgrounds are ADA compliant if they have a sidewalk. That’s bare minimum,” says Gibson. “This allows interaction for everyone, not a separate but equal playground.”

Sandboxes with back rests for children with difficulty sitting upright will be available, as well as visual cues at stations for children with literacy handicaps.

“Braille and sensory integration areas will also be there,” Gibson says. “So the kids who have trouble hearing or seeing can touch something that vibrates to stimulate learning.”

Part of the design comes from an idea known as Tolerance for Error. “Most of the park will have open space between things to allow a child to play and fall, while minimizing impact of accidents,” Gibson says.

The park is designed for all regardless of abilities. That means, for instance, disabled parents will be able to play at My Place with their able-bodied children.

“It’s also designed to allow low physical effort,” says Gibson. This will provide stations and play areas for people of all builds and sizes to have fun and explore.

The model for My Place is planned around not knowing who will show up, so areas have to be accessible and open to everyone.

Click here to find out how you can help with MyPlace

Here is a website to find out more about MyPlace

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