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New Scottsdale playground looks beyond accessibility for children with disabilities

The idea at the center of the new design: inclusion.
Rendering of the new playground at Chaparral Park in Scottsdale. (Provided by Scottsdale Parks and Rec)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - The playground at Chaparral Park in Scottsdale is about to get a new look, but its design goes way beyond simple upgrades.

Construction on the brand new "state of the art, interactive, accessible" playground started Monday. The idea at the center of the new design: inclusion.

"All of our playgrounds in the City of Scottsdale are accessible and meet the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for play areas," Brett Jackson, Scottsdale Parks and Rec manager, said. "However, access does not always guarantee inclusion, and this can result in lost opportunities for children with disabilities."

That won't be the case at Chaparral Park's new playground.

Jackson said the city worked with its playground vendors to create an "inclusive play destination" for both able-bodied children and children with disabilities.

The new playground will feature equipment that provides "multi-sensory interactive experiences," swings that are more secure "similar to a car seat," Jackson said, swings that allow parents and children to ride together, equipment that spins -- suited for children with cognitive disabilities -- and even a small quiet area in case a child is overwhelmed by everything going on around them.

(Provided by Scottsdale Parks and Rec)

Accessibility will also be more prevalent with the new design, Jackson said, allowing children, using walking devices or wheelchairs, to move around freely.

"It is not just a play area for those with various disabilities," Jackson said. "There is challenging equipment as well for able-bodied children, again making it an all-inclusive play area where everyone can participate together."

Jackson said for the new design the city partnered with the the Me2 program, a program "founded on the understanding that beyond disability there are abilities and beyond accessibility there is inclusion."

The program and new Chaparral Park playground, Jackson said, follow the 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design: Be Fair, Be Included, Be Smart, Be Independent, Be Safe, Be Active and Be Comfortable.

"Our project will be the first playground in Arizona to be designated as a National Demonstration Site and serve in a network of leadership case examples that deploy research based best practices," Jackson said.

Jackson said they're hoping construction will be done in four weeks followed by a grand opening sometime in January.

(Provided by Scottsdale Parks and Rec)

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