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Building a Playground for Everyone


When Young Meadows Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, Alabama, decided to replace their play structure, they knew they needed an upgrade. The existing equipment had undergone severe wear and tear over the years, and it was a safety concern for the leaders at the church. When talks began about a capital campaign to fund an addition onto the church, it seemed natural to add the playground to the project list.  

"Our existing wooden play structure was outdated and was in a deteriorated condition," said Lori Woodham, a member of the Young Meadows congregation and a Landscape Architect by trade. "The church was also in the process of building an addition to the facility, and the existing structure would have to be removed to accommodate the new building. We have children of varying ages and some with physical and mental disabilities, so we were in need of a playground that would satisfy the needs of all our children."

Young Meadows was also beginning to recognize a need in developing a "disabilities ministry," to reach out to families who have a child or parent with a disability and get them involved in the church family.

Peggy Parker, a member of the building committee, said, "I've heard that 90% of children with a disability do not attend church on a regular basis. It was very important that everything in and around our building be accessible to every adult and every child. We began searching for a playground company with experience in building playgrounds accessible to everyone."

Play is critical to the healthy development of every child. Many times, through no fault of their own, opportunities for independent play may be less available to children with disabilities as a result of barriers in the play environment.

GameTime, www.gametime.com, was able to provide exactly what they needed with a universally designed, ramp-access play structure that allows all children to play throughout the many events, no matter what their ability. The main play system utilizes wide ramps, which allow two wheelchairs to pass in opposite directions and creates opportunities for more typically developing children to play side by side with children with a disability. The main structure is surrounded by accessible freestanding events and swings that contain an adaptive swing seat.

The building committee worked with the designers at J.A. Dawson & Company and came up with an economical solution for ground level access to the equipment. The area directly under the structure and under one bay of swings contains engineered wood fiber, while a firm and stable rubber "path" was poured around the system to provide access to the ramped structure and all freestanding components, including the accessible swings. The combination of the new equipment with the safety surfacing created a much safer and, more importantly, an exciting and attractive new playground.









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