Supplement Feature - April 2011
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Common Grounds

Inclusive Play on the Upswing

By Wynn St. Clair


The park has become so popular, busloads of children are often brought to the playground. CommonGround's comment box is filled with glowing reviews from people all over the world, as well. But the biggest compliment came from one of the girls whose mother petitioned for the park.

After cutting the grand opening ribbon, the girl pulled herself out of her wheelchair and scaled Gopher Mountain, an 8-foot hill covered with synthetic grass. Kids go up the mountain with the help of a lattice rope and then slide down.

The girl, who once told her parents there was nothing for her to do at Lakeland's parks, became so engrossed in the CommonGround experience, her mother briefly lost track of her at the park—another first.

"I knew then that we had succeeded." Page said. "This is a play experience—that's really what it is. It has been a fabulous opportunity for us to be able to provide this experience."

The project has become so important to Lakeland park officials that they want to help other communities with their designs. They're willing to offer advice on fundraising, synthetic surfaces, equipment or any other topic that would help build inclusive playgrounds elsewhere.

"Our goal is to have Common Ground in as many places as people will build them," Page said. "We want to share this experience with kids everywhere."