A pair of ribbon cutting ceremonies were recently held to celebrate the opening of several all-ability enhancements in Landa Park and Morningside Park, funded by the 2019 bond election. While most children enjoy their time at parks and on playgrounds, many children with disabilities feel that playgrounds are places of exclusion, where they only get to sit on the sidelines and watch their friends having fun. But playing on playgrounds and enjoying parks can add joy to life, relieve stress, supercharge learning, and connect people to nature. So, with that in mind, the New Braunfels Parks Department has installed these all-ability enhancements in the hopes of making these parks more welcoming and inclusive for visitors of all ages and abilities.
The first of the ribbon cuttings was held the morning of Oct. 30th in Landa Park for the opening of the Landa Park Symphony Trail, an interactive musical play area that is also an educational tool to challenge imaginations by stimulating creativity. The trail features a whimsically painted walkway lined by an ensemble of real musical and sculptural instruments created by Freenotes Harmony, including xylophones, chimes, and drums. The Mid-Texas Symphony helped organize the installation of those instruments to maximize their harmony.
Additional all-ability features added in Landa Park include:
- Reflection Swings – Provides face-to-face interaction between parents and children, which is a critical activity for children with cognitive needs.
- Merry Go-Round Spinner – Provides universal entry with a buddy seat and molded backs for support for children with disabilities.
- Landscaping and native pollinator garden - Features crossvines, cherry sage, lantana, and thyrallis.
- Handicap Accessible Seating area
- Adult changing tables inside playground restrooms
The second ribbon cutting was held the afternoon of Oct. 30th at Morningside Park, which was also the recent recipient of a TRAPS/Playcore Statewide grant that resulted in a 50/50 match towards playground equipment. Morningside Park now has several new enhancements, including:
- Playground Equipment - These enhancements bring fully ADA accessible playground equipment, including poured in place material for wheelchair accessibility, Reflection Swings, and an all-ability Merry-Go-Round Spinner. An Inclusive Side-by-Side Zip Line has been installed with a molded bucket seat with lock-in-place harness which provides stability and security for kids with limited core strength. The new playground equipment includes wheelchair transfer stations that emphasize social play and skills, teaching kids things like sharing, cooperating, negotiating and self-advocating, allowing kids of all abilities to play together despite limitations. The new playground includes Adaptive Switch Technology that allows people with movement-limiting disabilities to use technology to operate electronic devices. So instead of the person performing complex actions such as turning a knob, adaptive switches will offer easier movement solutions, such as pressing a button.
- Trails and Landscaping – These enhancements combine nature-themed playground equipment with trails to create a playful trail experience for children and families. The trail provides areas of sensory relief from the larger play areas. Landscape enhancements, including trees and shrubs, also provide additional integrated shade throughout the park.
- Other Amenities - These new amenities include shade structures, handicap accessible seating, an ADA compliant picnic table, and two adult changing tables in the restrooms.
“We are excited to open these two new all ability play areas for our community. Everyone, no matter their ability, deserves a great park and accessible equipment to connect to nature, experience joy and create memories,” said Stacey Dicke, New Braunfels Parks and Recreation Director. “We are especially grateful to Lauren Clawson for her inspiration to create these spaces. We are also grateful to the Dracheneers Robotics Team and the Verimendi Foundation for securing adult changing tables at both parks. These tables will allow even more families to get out and play!”
For additional information about these new playground enhancements, please visit the New Braunfels Parks and Recreation page on the city’s website.