A wheelchair swing sits under a nice big oak tree. Down the path further you’ll see a ramp, leading to a double-wide bridge. Turn left and you’re in the sensory tunnel, filled with light and color. And all around you’ll hear music – giant xylophones, chimes and drums accessible to every budding musician.
This is the setting of The Children’s Home & Lemieux Family Center’s newest addition, an inclusive playground located right in the facility’s backyard. Open to the public, The Children’s Home ushered the playground in this past summer with a grand opening. Presided by none other than former Steeler’s quarterback, Josh Dobbs, the event was co-chaired by Ranny Ferguson and Laura Penrod Kronk.
Childhood memories can be hazy, but you might be surprised how well you recall playground experiences. Playgrounds are more than a place of play. They challenge children to explore, make new friends, and learn in different ways. But not all playgrounds are created equal. Without accessibility features like ADA swings or ramps, joining in on the fun for children with disabilities is sometimes not possible.
Thanks to PNC, who hosted the event that raised the needed funds for the playground, The Children’s Home was able to design a more inclusive setting to accommodate children with disabilities. Smooth, level rubber surfacing cushions falls to prevent injury and makes getting around easier for children in powerchairs. Ground-level features such as musical instruments, a wheelchair swing, and ramps also enable greater participation for children of all abilities and stages.
While greater attention must be paid to create a more equitable, inclusive community for children who move and interact with the world differently than their typical peers, The Children’s Home is excited to take a step in the right direction, bringing this playground to the neighborhood for all children and families.