Located in Aga Park in Fountain’s first all-inclusive playground equipped with wheelchair-accessible play equipment and sensory activities. Aga Park is a beautiful green space located in the city of Fountain, Colorado. This park features unique geological features such as rocky cliffs and bubbling streams, making it an ideal spot for hiking and other outdoor activities. The city has been working on this project for two years, ever since Black Hills Energy awarded it $15k to fund an equipment upgrade and playground retrofit. “I couldn’t be more excited, and I want everyone to know that this is finally happening,” City Clerk Silvia Huffman said.
Huffman, who is also the Parks and Recreation Department supervisor, said she and Parks Superintendent Jim Watson hope to add inclusive structures to all city parks soon. Taking into account the playground’s small size, the old structures will be completely removed and replaced with a variety of new ones. As is the case now, they will continue to be divided into sections appropriate for younger which are 2-5 years, and older children from 5-12 years. In addition, she said she chose Aga Park first because of the splash pad because so many people come here and it’s so busy. “Also, since this is a larger playground we had the space to add this new equipment next to the existing structures,” she explained.
The idea for these projects came up a few years ago when a council member noted that the city had no playground equipment accessible to the disabled. This laid the foundation for the parks department to learn about the challenges facing people with disabilities. They learned that the first thing they would need to do at Aga Park of Fountain is pave the parking lot for better wheelchair mobility. Parks shared that cost with the Streets Department who is responsible for paving and the Water Department because it places tanks on site.
Huffman then reached out to community members to find out what types of items might be useful for this type of play area. The city worked with AtoZ Recreation out of Littleton for specific playground ideas and ordered structures from the city’s usual supplier of structures, Burke Playgrounds. Huffman noted that the research and planning process is what took the bulk of the two years since the grant was offered, not the actual construction. But now the city has a head start on planning for additional playground retrofits.
At Aga Park in Fountain, the new structures are placed along a wheelchair-accessible path that meanders through the sand. Among the new items are hand-operated sand diggers and various stations for music, sensory, and learning activities such as telling time and using sign language. Wilson noted that these stations are not only geared toward children with physical disabilities but also to benefit children with developmental issues such as autism. Stations that make noise and play music are clustered together, while the sensory touch ones are farther along the path.
While older parks are not legally required to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act, playground equipment and facilities constructed or altered on or after March 15, 2012, must comply with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, according to the National Program for Playground Safety.
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