Submitted by the University Place Parks & Recreation Foundation.
Vibrantly colored swings, spinners, and other play structures will populate a brand-new inclusive playground in University Place later this year, thanks to a partnership between the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation (CRSF), University Place Parks & Recreation Foundation, the City of University Place, Rotary Club of University Place-Fircrest, and other public and private partners. The playground is all-inclusive and will be available to children of all abilities located at UP’s 27-acre Cirque Park. The playground’s total cost is expected to be $1,000,000 which includes: a new restroom facility with two ADA family restrooms, site development and state-of-the-art playground equipment. The new playground is expected to open in late fall 2023 or early spring 2024. (Click here to see full color rendering.)
The playground has been designed by a local community team and Cunningham Recreation. It features the latest in-play equipment that encourages interactive play among children of all abilities. The playground will also feature a base of interlocking cushioned tiles, allowing wheeled devices to move smoothly in and out of the playground. Other features will offer tactile or cognitive stimulation to children with nonphysical disabilities, such as autism, speech, hearing, or intellectual disabilities.
For many years, standard playgrounds have excluded children with physical disabilities and other developmental issues. Children who use wheelchairs or have other disabilities often can’t play on traditional swings or merry-go-rounds. Disabled and able-bodied children will be able to play together, many for the first time. People with disabilities are the largest minority in the U.S. and approximately 15 percent of school-age children fit in this category, including kids in UP, Pierce County, and beyond. When the City of University Place sought to improve its service to the disabled community, it found community partners in the University Place Parks & Recreation Foundation, a community-based organization, the University Place School District, its local Rotary Club of University Place-Fircrest, and business community members.
In September 2022, the City of University Place, in response to a proposal from the University Place Parks & Recreation Foundation (UPPRF) and Rotary Club of University Place-Fircrest, designated a site at its largest park for the installation of the new playground. The City of University Place approved the playground design in October. CRSF partnered with a local team of professionals and parents to produce the design.
CRSF is a national 501c3 nonprofit organization that helps underserved communities create clean, safe places to learn and grow. To date, CRSF has completed 112 Youth Development Parks in 27 states, which are primarily multipurpose or baseball turf fields, including six in Washington State. CRSF will be overseeing the construction of the playground and have also committed to supporting the project financially, but there are many funding opportunities still open to organizations and individuals to help bring the playground to reality. The drive to raise these funds will begin in earnest following the signature of an agreement between CRSF and the City of University Place. Other organizations who have been influential in the development of this project are First Financial Northwest Bank, Families Unlimited, the University Place School District, and the Rotary Club of University Place/Fircrest.