Elkhart opens area's first inclusive public playground

NOW: Elkhart opens area’s first inclusive public playground

ELKHART, Ind. -- Several students helped Mayor Tim Neese and city leaders open the city's first ADA playground.

The ribbon cutting ceremony on the city's first inclusive public playground was held Wednesday morning at McNaughton Park.

One special education teacher is happy to have a park in the area that is safe for everyone.

"This is a wonderful park. Kids really want to come out and enjoy it. It's something that's accessible besides the equipment, the turf that they have here is specialized for kids in wheelchairs. It's actually softer so if kids do fall they kind of bounce back a little better than on hard turf," teacher Don Knowlton said.

The city has been working on designing and building the park for the last five years.

It was built at McNaughton Park, which is the city's most visited park. It has not had playground upgrades in over two decades.

“The improvements at McNaughton Park are part of Elkhart’s ongoing efforts to meet, and in some cases exceed, federal ADA regulations,” Neese said. “This new playground is intended to provide a safe place for children of all abilities to play and interact together. The design also makes it easier for adults with mobility issues to remain close by while their children and grandchildren play.”

The new equipment is primarily designed for children ages five through 12.

The playground has many new features, including a fully accessible swing with a safety belt and an enclosed pod for children on the autism spectrum who may become overstimulated in a large group.

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