One day, parks such as these may likely be the norm, but there is a certain excitement in the air with the potential arrival of the first ever universally accessible playground in Santa Monica. With the city’s Disabilities and Recreation and Parks Commissions holding a special joint meeting at the Ken Edwards Center on Oct. 3, the playground took one step closer from plan to tangible realization.
At Monday night’s meeting, city staff presented to the community the playground’s design concept, which resembled an ocean and beach-themed activity area for all children to enjoy.
“We have two solid directions for this special playground,” said project designer Katherine Spitz. “They both take advantage of the fabulous setting we’ve been given to work with–Santa Monica Bay. We hope the community is as excited about them as we are.”
Indeed, the universally accessible playground features a disabled-friendly design, allowing “an opportunity for children of all levels of ability to enjoy time at the beach in a way that might not have been possible before.”
A relatively new phenomenon, universally accessible playgrounds appear to be an equalizer of sorts, in that children will be able to partake in all the joys of playground activity without being precluded from accessing because of physical or mental disability.
Staff has described Santa Monica’s universally accessible playground as “a place for children to socialize with their differently-abled peers, providing a path toward removing the stigma often associated with disabilities.”
To be located at Santa Monica State Beach near the 2900 block of Barnard Way, the universally accessible playground may take one of two iterations: the “P.O.P. Playground” and “The Ship.”
The P.O.P. Playground is themed after the historic Pacific Ocean Park, which once resided nearby. This iteration would include an active play area that enhances motor skills, a “sunken submarine” that can be scaled by children, a boardwalk flanked by trees, a water and sand play area, and circus-style canopy shades. There is also a raised lifeguard tower allowing play pals to enjoy uninhibited ocean views.
Meanwhile, “The Ship” pays homage to the playground’s proximity to Santa Monica Bay, which features a dominant theme of a “Clipper Ship” play structure that will create a “visual icon for boardwalk and provides opportunity for imaginative play.”
Many of the same features in the first option, such as the sand and play areas as well as the shaded canopies, will also be featured in “The Ship.”
To see the design concepts for Santa Monica’s first universally accessible playground online, please follow this link: www.facebook.com/smbuap.
Community input of the two design plans will be accepted by the city through Oct. 9 via the Facebook page or by directly contacting either the Disabilities or the Recreation and Parks Commissions.
Coincidentally, October is National Disability Awareness Month.
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