Virtual tour of new playground highlights accessibility

January 22, 2021 Jaime DeJesus
Virtual tour of new playground highlights accessibility
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The New York Parks Department celebrated the completion of the newly reconstructed Bensonhurst Park playground with a virtual tour via Facebook Tuesday.

The tour was led by Christopher Noel, accessibility coordinator of NYC Parks.

“We wanted to make sure that children of all abilities would be able to use the equipment, especially in a newly designed playground,” Noel said. “We wanted to design play that kids standing or sitting in a wheelchair can enjoy.”

Noel said the previous playground was too hilly and bumpy.

“It wasn’t the most accessible for people coming in,” he said. “It had step entrances on the sides. With the new construction, we’ve limited that and flattened it down and made it a lot better for everyone’s use.”

Noel said the new area was designed for universal play, which means the play equipment will be accessible for all children.

The play area for smaller children features a five-foot turning pattern area at the top of the deck so a child can easily turn around when they need to. There’s also a hand-grab bar for a child in a mobility device. The ramps are about three feet wide and have handrails on each side in case a child needs help walking up the ramp.

The safety surface, which is flush with the pathway, will allow children to go on and off of it without any tripping hazard.

There is also a swing designed for children who have limited trunk control.

“There’s a safety latch that attaches between their legs,” Noel said. “This safety harness with their arms on the side could make it feel nice and safe when they swing.”

Over at the spray shower, kids can press a button that lets water spray everyone around.

“It’s another example of when we talk about universal play,” Noel said. “Running or pushing a chair, they’ll be able to be a part of it.”

Certain structures allow children to learn about different subjects, including Braille, the solar system and how to tell time.

“We always try to give our kids experiences on our playground so that a child doesn’t just come to play, they can also come to learn,” Noel said.

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