A playground is supposed to be a place where kids can play together without barriers. Unfortunately, most playgrounds feature older equipment that is not inclusive. Newer or updated playgrounds may have accessibility features but this doesn’t mean it is inclusive, or universal. To be inclusive would imply that children of any ability could enjoy the playground features. Another thing to consider is accessible routes. Are you able to access the playground from an accessible parking space without barriers such as curbs, steps or wood chips? In Fargo, the Rotary Centennial Universal Playground at Lindenwood Park offers accessibility features like ground-level play components which are items that can be approached and exited at ground level. It also features elevated components with accessible routes that are elevated and at ground level. In Moorhead, Minnesota, Gooseberry Mound park offers a playground that features similar accessibility as Lindenwood with access to the footbridge over the Red River that connects to Lindenwood park from the Minnesota side of the river. In 2015, the city of Mandan, ND opened a state-of-the-art universal playground at Eagles Park so children of all abilities could play together. Playgrounds are better when everyone can play.
We know that advocating for change takes time. Parks and recreation budgets are not created equal, and sometimes the process of adding accessible features is split up into different fiscal years because of the cost involved. In October 2019, the Moorhead City Council approved plans to create a universal playground next to Miracle Field. The park is estimated to cost one million dollars to construct. When finished it would provide a fully inclusive playground so children of all abilities can play together. For more information on how you can help make this dream a reality check out the Moorhead Inclusive Playground project Facebook page or visit the City of Moorhead page.
For more information on how to advocate for accessible playgrounds in your area contact your local parks and recreation office and start the conversation.