Submitted by Claudia Ellsworth.
On Tuesday, September 6, 2022, the University Place City Council offered its enthusiastic support (6-0) to the creation of an “all-inclusive” play area at the City’s spacious Cirque Bridgeport Park, located near the intersection of those thoroughfares. This playground design would provide a safe place where children of all abilities can play together, and would be developmentally appropriate for children with or without disabilities. For many years, standard playgrounds have excluded children with physical disabilities or other developmental issues. Children in wheelchairs or with other disabilities have rarely enjoyed a simple swing or merry go round. One in ten University Place students are identified with disabilities and in need of special education.
The project was brought to the City Council by the fledgling University Place Parks & Recreation Foundation (UPPRF), which itself has grown out of the community coalition “United for UP”. Represented on the UPPRF, chaired by UP resident Chris Saunders, are the Rotary Club of University Place-Fircrest, Kiwanis Club of University Place, Families Unlimited Network, UP School District, First Financial Bank, and several citizen volunteers.
City of University Place Public Works staff have been assisting with possible location of the playground, as well as design issues. The design team includes citizens and professionals knowledgeable about both disabilities and overall recreation needs of the community. A proposed final design of the play area will be presented to the City Council for action October 17.
With the assistance of the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, the playground has found a possible partner in the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. The Ripken Foundation, whose national mission is to assist communities by supporting and advocating for children, building youth development playgrounds, has developed 111 play area projects throughout the U.S., including six in Washington State. Among these six projects are a playground, adaptive baseball fields, and standard baseball fields in Kelso, Everett, Spokane, South Bend, Nespelem and Blaine.
Construction of the playground is scheduled to take place in 2023.
Further information can be obtained by contacting Chris Saunders at email@example.com.