More inclusive playgrounds are coming to Cedar Rapids, part of a growing trend

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 4:09 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -A 20-year-old playground at a popular Cedar Rapids Park is getting a more inclusive replacement. The city is working to make playgrounds accessible to children of all abilities as it updates its parks.

If you’ve been to Bever Park over the last few days you’ve probably noticed the playground is gone. Crews removed the equipment and have been working to get rid of the wood chips as well. It’s all to make way for the updated playground which will be accessible to even more kids.

The previous playground was in need of repair.

“It was ADA compliant but it didn’t have as much inclusive equipment on it but this playground should have more of that where it includes more kids of all abilities,” said Steve Krug, Landscape Architect at the City of Cedar Rapids.

The city installed its first all-inclusive playground at Noelridge Park back in 2017. Since then, several other area parks have become inclusive, including Linn County’s Morgan Creek Park which opened in June.

Some of the other inclusive parks in the area are Lowe Park in Marion, Daniels Park in northeast Cedar Rapids and Linn County’s Wanatee Park.

“We’re just really glad the world is catching up and realizing the needs of the people we serve,” said Jenny Bosking, Director of Development and Communications at The Arc.

The Arc in downtown Cedar Rapids serves people with disabilities and they often travel to area parks that have become inclusive. The group says it’s something that lets children of all abilities play together.

“Some of our fondest memories come from being able to be at the playgrounds when we’re kids and imagine what that would be like if you were a child that has to access medical equipment like a wheelchair or a walker and you have to sit on the sidelines and watch other people play,” explained Kristen Krambeer, Advocacy Program Coordinator for The Arc.

The Arc is in the process of raising $750,00 for its own project. They plan to build an inclusive playground outside of their building in downtown Cedar Rapids.

“The surface is safe that is so important because so many of the people that we serve are fall risks,” said Bosking.

The playground at The Arc will be open to the community.

“Currently there is no inclusive playground in downtown Cedar Rapids,” Bosking explained.

Thanks to federal ARPA money distributed from the county and the city, they’re nearly half way to their fundraising goal. The hope is to have The Arc playground complete by next summer when the group celebrates its 70th anniversary.

As for the city’s newest playground at Bever Park, it will have musical options, a saucer swing and sensory panels.

“Make it so all of the kids can play together, nobody feels left out. Everybody has different abilities and needs and we’re trying to you know include all that as much as we can,” Krug explained.

Some have been concerned about the old firetruck toy which was part of the Bever Park playground. Those wanting to play on a similar firetruck can visit Ellis Park.

Construction on the new playground in Bever Park is expected to begin next week and it’s going to move quickly. The playground should be ready to go in just 3-4 weeks.

Inclusive playgrounds also make sure the city is following the law which says any new or renovated playground needs be A-D-A compliant. Guidance in 2010 made that include things like wheel-chair friendly surfacing and ramps.