Outside the newly renovated Munroe-Meyer Institute is a playground where play is limitless. The nearly 6,000 square foot space gives children living with disabilities an opportunity to play in a space created specifically for them.
“The entire project has been incredibly rewarding because knowing what the end game is for the kids that have different disabilities, what we are doing for them is pretty incredible,” said MCL Superintendent Brent Holscher.
Under brightly colored canopies that tent the playground is design, ingenuity, and craftsmanship that required specialized time and consideration. MCL Construction and our design partners,Altus Architectural Studios and Olsson built an area where no child is held back from play.
“We had to think about it from the very beginning,” said Holscher. “How this was going to play out for the final project as far as access for the chairs and the fall zones.”
It started with grading. Before any structure was set in place, MCL Construction made sure children in wheelchairs or crutches would be able to move freely on the playground and around the play area. The curved surface specifically highlights potential fall areas where a minimum of three to five inches of rubber padding are placed.
The structure itself is a lot wider than your neighborhood playground. Nearly the entire playground is accessible by wheelchair. A wide ramp gives children in wheelchairs easy access to the structure. That same width is carried through the entire playground making movement from one bridge to another possible. Off the physical structure is a swing set designed to fit two at once. This would allow a child and anyone assisting him or her to ride with.
More than structural improvements, different sensory areas are built into the playground. A curved path that frames the playground is sectioned off into different areas. Each section is filled with a different sand or pebble walking path providing a different texture to see, touch, and walk across.
“They can feel on their shoes or on their feet with turf and then there is a rock road and a gravel road, just different crunches and noises they can get with that,” said Holscher.
In addition to different textures, children can explore different sounds with instrument-style play equipment. Right next to the swings, children can play 4.5-foot wind chimes. Coming off the 10-foot neon orange slide is a set of bongo drums; these same drums are available for play near the wheelchair entrance.
Before any project, MCL educates itself on the needs of our clients and the purpose of the build. The playground at Munroe-Meyer was built with the children in mind from start to finish.
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