Inclusive Playground Equipment Installed at Mustang Park
Inclusive playground equipment was installed at Mustang Park (602 Mustang Ridge Drive) the week of January 21. Included in the addition are a full bucket harness swing and an Omni Spin Spinner, which is a new version of a merry go round. One swing and two outdated spring toys were removed to make room for the new equipment. This expenditure was approved by city council last year. Based on community input, they are considering adding inclusive playground equipment to other parks in Murphy.
Matt Foster, City of Murphy Parks Superintendent, said that the playground industry is focusing on including inclusive equipment at existing playgrounds instead of making the entire playground accessible. The reason for this shift is twofold. He said that inclusive playgrounds have something for all children allowing all children to play together. The other reason is that cities were finding by the time they made a park all accessible (ie. wheelchair ramps) their budget was spent before they could include fun play equipment.
Foster met with two Murphy families the day after the inclusive equipment was installed to gather feedback. Jnana Settle said, “It says great things about Murphy that they’re investing in this type of equipment.” She and her husband Johnnie have five children. Iris, their 12 year old, uses a wheelchair. She said that since Iris is 12 years old, she does not want to be picked up from her wheelchair and be put in the harness swing. She would prefer playground equipment where she can play and remain in her wheelchair such as a platform swing. Johnnie said that Iris has enjoyed rolling through the splash pad at Murphy Central Park. He said their family has gone to parks that had chalkboards that are reachable while in a wheelchair. Jnana suggested activity boards that have musical elements, also reachable while in a wheelchair. Jnana highly suggests ramps going up into the playground equipment that allow persons in wheelchairs to participate with the other children. She points out that these ramps not only benefit children in wheelchairs, but also adults in wheelchairs that are there with children or grandchildren.
Cutberto and Rhonda Salas were also trying out the new equipment with their daughter Savy. Rhonda said, “We are happy the city is trying. We will definitely come back.” They pointed out that the full bucket harness swing was not good for people who can’t hold themselves up. They said the type of swings they prefer recline a bit and are made of a more cushiony substance. They mentioned that it is not easy to roll Savy across the wood chips and would prefer the poured rubber concrete walkway leading up to the inclusive equipment. Matt heard their requests and said, “We want to get this right.”
Foster would like all parents who need inclusive playground equipment for their children to provide feedback on what they really need and want in a playground. Please contact Matt Foster at firstname.lastname@example.org.