Everybody Needs Ideal Places to Play

July 12, 2021

Let’s face it: We’re all children at heart and love to play! Merry-go-rounds, teeter totters and swings in public parks bring back fond memories for most grown-ups and create new fun experiences for our kids. And with great play in mind, Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods communities include accessible playgrounds for the enjoyment of homeowners.

But what about boys and girls who can’t play in a “normal” park setting with traditional play equipment? Those kiddos with autism, who use a wheelchair, or who have sensory issues, for example? How can we make a great playground experience for them and include them in the fun?

“At Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods we’ve made it our mission to create public play areas that are ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, at the very minimum,” said Trish Morris, Ideal’s Senior Community Development Project Manager. Trish manages the playground builds in all of Ideal’s neighborhoods and has a heart for designing these play spaces. 

Current ADA standards primarily require playgrounds to be accessible for those who use a wheelchair or other mobility aid, including: 

  • Entry and travel routes within the park should be barrier-free
  • A variety of accessible play options
  • Appropriate safety surface beneath equipment

“But our goal is to make our playgrounds inclusive, too -- not just meet bare minimum regulations for accessibility. An inclusive playground provides that just-right level of challenge, addresses all levels of ability, and goes beyond minimum accessibility to create a play experience that meets a variety of needs and interests. In an inclusive play space, children of all abilities can interact with each other and do what all kids want to do: play, just like everyone else.

“Playgrounds that welcome everyone truly create community and will become gathering places,” Morris says. “We want every child to be able to play. We want our playgrounds to ensure children of all abilities can play together.” 

Currently, several Ideal communities offer accessible, inclusive playgrounds. Accessibility at Ideal parks includes ADA-compliant ramps, mulch and anything that makes the space easier to access. 

  • Valencia, in north Oklahoma City /Edmond area, is home to Frog Park, an ADA accessible space with an Oodle Swing (a dish swing in which any child can play); a merry-go-round and teeter totter with a transfer option for kids who need to move from a wheelchair onto the equipment; and a splash pad.

Three new parks are in various stages of construction:

  • Red Canyon Ranch, in Norman, will have a dish swing and ADA picnic tables, as well as a splash pad.
  • Skyline Trails, in Mustang, will have a dish swing, ADA picnic tables, and a splash pad.
  • The Woodlands, a new community set to break ground in Harrah, will boast a dish swing, ADA picnic tables, a splash pad, plus an ADA zipline seat.

Morris says their hope is to challenge children of different ages and abilities and provide a fun, inclusive play experience for all. “We want kids to learn to take risks together. No one should be left on the sidelines wishing they could participate!”

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