Mar 15, 2010 8:18 PM by Greg Boyce
Colorado Springs is building its first "universally accessible" playground in Memorial Park. The new playground will offer children of all abilities the opportunity to play side-by-side. Completion is expected in May.
The playground was made possible by a partnership between the City Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department's TOPS Program and local nonprofit, The Swing High Project, headed by Olympic medal-winning gymnast Michelle Dusserre-Farrell. She has a ten-year-old daughter with spina bifida.
Universally accessible playgrounds are typically more expensive than traditional playground equipment because of the need for extensive ramping systems and rubber surfaces. The City and Swing High Project spent two years raising funds for the $937,000 Memorial Park playground. Funding partners include the voter-approved TOPS Program ($400,000); Great Outdoors Colorado ($200,000); developer parkland dedication fees ($150,000); Phil Long Community Fund ($110,000); Gates Family Foundation ($25,000); El Pomar Foundation ($10,000); King Soopers ($10,000); Aerials Gymnastics ($10,000); and Swing High Project donors ($22,000). No general city tax funds were used to construct the playground.
According to 2000 U.S. Census statistics, there are 8,400 residents in El Paso County between the ages of five and twenty who have some degree of non-institutionalized disability. The closest public access universally accessible playground to Colorado Springs is in the Denver Metro area.