Bentonville breaks barriers with inclusive artificial turf playground

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by Mary Jordan | October 20, 2019 at 1:00 a.m.

BENTONVILLE — Parks and Recreation unveiled an inclusive playground Saturday that’s designed to break down barriers between special needs and able-bodied children.

The Citizens Park Playground, 1101 S.W. Citizens Circle, is the final amenity to be built at the park, said David Wright, Parks and Recreation director.

Opening the playground completes a five-year project to develop Citizens Park, Wright said.

The 8,000-square-foot playground cost about $435,000 to build and is a unique feature for Bentonville parks, he said.

All other parks in the city are also compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act but still present challenges for special needs families, Wright said.

Playgrounds with mulch-like fall safe material on the ground make it difficult for children in wheelchairs to fully experience other city playgrounds, he said.

The Citizens Park Playground uses rubber padding covered with artificial turf as fall safe material and features a ramp system to access play structures, making it fully accessible for children with mobility disabilities, Wright said.

“You’re able to maneuver a wheelchair on this surface with no issues,” he said.

The playground also features sensory items for children to explore along a ramp system, specialized swings, dual slides to allow parents to slide alongside their children and what he called a “chill out chair” for children with autism.

“Kids with autism sometimes just need a place to zone everything out, and so that’s what it is,” Wright said.

He stressed the playground isn’t intended just for children with disabilities.

“While the playground is designed for kids with special needs, it has the play value of a playground for the able-bodied child,” Wright said.

The design of the playground will help remove barriers between special needs and able-bodied children, he said.

Barriers such as stairs often prevent special needs children from experiencing a playground in the same manner as the able-bodied children they may be playing with, Wright said . . . . READ MORE

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