An inclusive playground in Whiteside Park to serve children with and without disabilities, city officials say

The city is building an inclusive zone in Whiteside Park. Video courtesy of the City of Tulsa

Show star Lincoln Pool, 5, did not make it to Whiteside Park on Thursday morning.

She’s waiting for the real fun to begin next summer, when an inclusive play area designed for all children, including children with disabilities, is set to open in the park.

It was therefore Lincoln’s mother, Lauren Pool, who spoke about the importance of the project during a press conference to unveil the concept.

“I’ve spent the past five years being very aware that the world was not made for people with disabilities, but by changing one thing at a time, we can make a big difference for those who can navigate the world. world differently,” Piscine said. “I hope when this playground opens, you all come back to Oklahoma’s largest and most inclusive playground.”

Pool said it had been exactly two years this week since she contacted Mayor GT Bynum to ask what the city could do to provide park amenities for children like her daughter, who has cerebral palsy. Lincoln uses a wheelchair and a walker to get around, his mother said.

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“During our visits to the parks, we encountered many obstacles that prevented us from playing: mulch, plastic barriers requiring the ability to step over, swings that are not made for children who cannot stand standing, and the list goes on lit,” Pool said.

Bynum and Parks Manager Anna America listened to Pool’s concerns and invited her to plan and design the new inclusive playground. She seems rather satisfied with what awaits her.

“Children of all abilities were considered and discussed throughout the planning process,” Pool said. “From visual impairment to sensory processing disorders and mobility limitations, this will be a park where everyone counts and is included.”

The approximately $1.5 million project is being paid for with $500,000 of existing capital funding from the Parks Department and a $1 million gift from the Sanford and Irene Burnstein Foundation.

“We had the vision, but what makes it possible today is the Burnstein Foundation,” America said.

Irene Burnstein said her family and the foundation were celebrating the vision for the new playground and it would be a dream come true to see it filled with children next year.

The playground will be, she said, “a place where children from across the community of all ages and abilities can come together to play, explore and learn from each other.”

In addition to the new playground, Tulsa Parks will convert one of the restrooms at the Whiteside Park Community Center, 4009 S. Pittsburg Ave., into a fully accessible family restroom. The installation will include automatic doors, grab bars and ADA compliant light fixtures.

Plans also include improving accessibility from the parking lot to the playground and building accessible pathways to connect it to the wider pathway network.

ACS Playground Adventures designed the inclusive playground and the equipment is provided by Landscape Structures Inc.

Bryan Montgomery, project manager for ACS, said the company measures its success by “how many kids you can make smile with how many different abilities.”

“And that’s what this design does: Every child that can come in, and their mom and dad, their caregivers, grandmas and grandpas, will have something to do that helps them smile,” Montgomery said. .

Bynum said Tulsans made the parks the place where community is created, bringing together people from diverse backgrounds, political views and religious beliefs. Whiteside’s new playground for all children will only improve the ability of the parks system to fulfill this role, he said.

“I think it’s really important,” he said. “It’s not just about play equipment for children with special needs. This is playground equipment that all the kids in this area will love to use, and they’re going to be using it side by side, having this great experience together as kids here in our community.

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