November 2013 - Parks & Recreation - 39

This accessible carousel at
Clemyjontri Park in Virginia
features chariots and a spinning
tea cup that accommodate
children in wheelchairs.

Don Sweeney/Fairfax County Park Authority

SOCIAL EQUITY

The Freedom of Play
NPR works with play experts to create a nationwide database of inclusive playgrounds
By Lauren Hoffmann

O

n a crisp March day, a handful of people gathered at Clemyjontri Park
in McLean, Virginia. Staff from the Fairfax County Park Authority,
NRPA Playground Safety Manager Caroline Smith, Certified Playground Safety Inspector John Balicki and I were all waiting for a special guest
to arrive. You see, Clemyjontri Park is a playground where children of all abilities can play side by side and enjoy the benefits of getting outdoors, moving
their bodies, having fun and socializing. It is an inclusive and accessible playground and a great example of the kind.
Our plan that day was to show our
special guest the features of the playground, provide background information and resources about inclusive and
accessible playgrounds, discuss the important role of access and inclusion, and
stress how public park and recreation
agencies make this happen in communities across the country. The special
guest: Robert Benincasa, reporter with
National Public Radio (NPR).
You may be familiar with the
broadcast news stories by Benin-

casa that aired on NPR on August
27 and 28: " For Kids with Special
Needs, More Places to Play " (www.
npr.org/2013/08/27/213827534/
for-kids-with-special-needs-moreplaces-to-play) and " New Accessible Playground Rules May
Not Go Far Enough " (www.npr.
org/2013/08/28/214831473/newaccessible-playground-rules-maynot-go-far-enough). But NPR also
produced something else on its website as part of these special reports: a

community-edited guide to accessible
playgrounds.
The " Playgrounds for Everyone "
searchable online database application
(http://apps.npr.org/play
grounds) is a compilation of accessible, inclusive playgrounds across
the country. Submitted by citizens
and park and recreation departments
alike, the database currently has
1,826 sites identified.
When NPR conceived the idea for
this database, they contacted the experts at PlayCore's Center for Professional Development for help identifying where inclusive play spaces
already existed throughout the country. PlayCore immediately provided
information on hundreds of relevant
sites nationwide that were created using PlayCore's 7 Principles of Inclusive
Playground Design. The Principles,

W W W. N R PA . O R G | N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 3 |

Parks & Recreation

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