Let’s play!

REPRINTED FROM THE REPUBLICAN EAGLE Universal playground provides access for all who visit Red Wing’s Colvill Park Last year two […]

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Universal playground provides access for all who visit Red Wing’s Colvill Park

Last year two local women began spear heading an effort to bring a universal playground to Red Wing. And in the past 11 months their efforts have snowballed.

Their proposal—for a playground that is accessible to children of all ability levels—gained wide public support. Local governments, businesses and charities pitched in to the fundraising efforts—and raised more than $500,000.

On Oct. 3 Red Wing residents cut the ribbon on the universal playground at Colvill Park.

“It really demonstrates that our community believes everyone counts,” said Audra Quandt, who along with Heather Marx initiated the playground project.

“There really is something there for everyone,” she said.

For a playground to be considered universal 70 percent of the equipment must be accessible to a person with a disability, Quandt said.

The new playground is certainly universal, from top to bottom.

Semi-soft rubber tiles lie underneath all of the play-ground’s equipment. They are firm enough to drive a wheel chair across yet cushioned enough to absorb a child’s fall.

As well the equipment is ramped all the way to its highest level, allowing for wheel chair access.

These features are just two of the numerous features that help make the universal playground accessible.

In fact, there are many features that make the playground accessible to all. Here are some of them:

Swings: A pair of swings at the playground includes a full seat and straps that can secure a child who may not have the ability to balance in a simple swing.

Teeter-totter: The play-ground’s four-child teeter-totter features two seats that have backrests and straps that allow children with limited muscle control to teeter-totter without fear of falling.

Play panels: Throughout the playground are play panels designed for children that have varying sensory needs.

One panel features Braille, making it accessible to blind children. Other panels have pictorials that allow non-verbal children to communicate via images.

Pods and bongo drums: The playground’s bongo drums are a good fit for the playground because most all children love music. Music however can be especially helpful to autistic children. According to the National Autistic Society “music can stimulate and develop more meaningful and playful communication in people with autism.”

Autistic children can at times become overwhelmed when playing with others. That’s why the playgrounds pods can be especially beneficial to them. When an autistic child needs some alone time they can climb inside the pod for a time-out.

Big slides: The playground has many slides. Three of them are larger so that a parent may slide down them with their child on their lap.

Stainless steel slide: When a child slides down a plastic slide it causes static electricity. That electricity can fry the inner workings of cochlear implants —a small electronic device that can help hearing-impaired persons hear.

That’s why the playground features a metal slide, which doesn’t create static electricity.

The Republican-Eagle is the daily newspaper serving the Red Wing area.

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