As you stand back and take a look around, this playground may look like a typical playscape, however, when you take a closer look, you’ll notice that this Sensory Garden Playground is built a bit different.
“This playscape is trying to provide a barrier free inclusive play space for anyone with or without a disability,” said Sandy Gbur, Member of Play for All Playground.
The idea for the playground located in Wheaton, stemmed in 2011 with the Kiwanis Club of Wheaton wanting to create a place to serve those with autism and special needs. They created the nonprofit Play For All Playground and Garden Foundation partnering with park districts in the area.
Since then, they have received private donations, grants and sponsorships used to fund phase one of five of the $2.3 million project which is free to the public.
“We have a fragrance bar and that appeals to everybody so we have raised flower beds so that people who have bad backs or wheelchairs can come right up and dig in the dirt which kids don’t do very often anymore and that really is a fun thing that they like to do,” said Gbur. “We put labrets in the ground so we used like 2 domes or a path that goes circular so if you walk that path, even if you have a visual impairment you’re going to feel the difference and so it appeals to all the senses because we want everyone who’s visually impaired, physically, everyone to come out and enjoy it.”
Each phase will be completed as funds are raised with the nonprofit hoping to build an accessible tree house, water play area, and a multipurpose sensory integrated sports field.
“This park is really nice because it has the smaller playgrounds, things for smaller ages I think I read it was perfect for 2-5 year olds and I agree there’s low level things that kids don’t really have to crawl on so you don’t have to worry about them falling and all the sensory things are really nice, and the musical instruments they get to play with,” said visitor, Shawn Zadkobeic.
The nonprofit has also installed the first of four sculptures of their Art Along the Way series, which gives children with sensory processing disorders something else to enjoy.
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