More than a Playground – Fully Accessible Playgrounds

Madison Parks have enriched the lives of Madisonians for more than a century. Our parks provide children and their families a place to gather, a place to connect with nature and a place to play. Unfortunately, those with physical and cognitive disabilities are currently underserved when it comes to playgrounds. That’s why Madison Parks Foundation is proud to be fundraising for fully accessible playgrounds that will be installed throughout the city.

Madison is home to 175 playgrounds that are scattered across the city but only two, so far, are fully accessible to those of all abilities. Playgrounds, and the free play they help foster are the bedrock of young friendships. Children with disabilities often lack opportunities to participate in play on an equal level with others due to environmental barriers. Fully accessible playgrounds give children with disabilities the chance to play side by side with their peers, which is critical for their development. The Madison community values inclusion and equity and these playgrounds provide this opportunity to children and individuals of any age.

According to the US Census Bureau, one in five people, including approximately 12 percent of children under age 15 has a physical or cognitive disability. This means that almost 5,000 children and their families in Madison are currently being served by two fully accessible playgrounds according. Looking at broader statistics, another 25,000 adults are limited in access as well. Madison can, and must, do better. With the help of private fundraising, five playgrounds strategically placed throughout the City of Madison, to maximize impact, will bring 95,744 households within a two-mile service area of a fully accessible playground, an increase of 81 percent. It’s a start but we need to make this a reality.

Each of the 8,000 square foot playgrounds will feature a poured-in-place contiguous rubber play surface, a fully ramp-connected main play structure, as well as stand-alone play pieces that focus on ease of access for visitors of any physical abilities. The playgrounds will be located near parking with handicapped accessible spaces and a shelter with accessible restrooms. All playgrounds will be connected by the park’s paved path system, providing an accessible route of travel. Equipment will feature tactile elements, contrasting colors, sheltered or quiet zone areas, sound features, wide turnarounds and ramp aisles, and play elements that can be reached from multiple points and appeal to children from two and twelve years old. The play area will also include several stand-alone items for multiple users like disc swings, inclusive merry-go-rounds and accessible spring riders. All ingress/egress points will be at grade, making access easier for those of any age with mobility challenges.

With community support, these five fully accessible playgrounds will be constructed (one each year) and will provide increased access to our public spaces. In addition to the finished project at Brittingham and Elver Parks, sites being considered include: Warner, Reindahl, Rennebohm, Olbrich and Goodman Parks.

Each of the five fully accessible playgrounds being constructed cost 4 times more than the average playground because of construction specifications. Each playground costs approximately $400,00 (material costs vary and increase each year).   To date, the City of Madison Parks Division has funded the improvements to Brittingham Park Playground and Elver Park. The City of Madison Parks Division has committed between $1.5 to $1.6 million for the construction of these five fully accessible playgrounds but private funding is needed to complete the construction of all five.


Renewing the Legacy