‘Inclusive’ playground in Eisenhower Park offers unique recreational opportunity
High-backed swings with protective harnesses allow children with disabilities to experience play. At left, Michael Geiger swung around on a recent Wednesday.
Situated in Eisenhower Park’s Field 4 is a two-acre playground that, at first glance, looks like a typical play setting. It’s filled with traditional equipment like swings, slides, monkey bars and a see-saw.
But a closer inspection of the playground reveals that it’s anything but typical. With adjustable harnesses and levers, spacious ramps and pathways and an extra-soft, spongy surface, the playground — the only one of its kind in Nassau County — is designed to accommodate children with special needs.
The Let All The Children Play park and playground opened in May 2012, as a partnership between Nassau County and the nonprofit organization Let All The Children Play.
The customized equipment is accessible to children with various disabilities. The wider pathways and ramps are wheelchair friendly, and the swings, high-backed with protective harnesses, support disabled children. The playground is also full of sound and sensory amenities, geared for children with developmental challenges.
Another popular piece of equipment is a spinning carousel with a wheelchair-accessible, adjustable entrance lever.
Shea Shapiro, LATCP’s director of operations, who took the Herald on a recent tour of the playground, explained that a child with a disability like cerebral palsy may never have experienced a swing. “It’s something that everyone takes for granted,” said Shapiro, 29, who joined the organization last November. “They don’t think about swinging.”
But LATCP’s true mission is promoting inclusive play. Throughout the summer, it has welcomed disabled and able-bodied children to the playground to take part in recreational programs twice a week. “It’s important to get everyone together,” said Shapiro, who lives in Farmingdale, “to introduce them to kids who may be a little bit different, but who want to do the same thing that every kid wants to do, which is play, learn, explore and interact with other kids.”
Programs like soccer training, tee ball and magic shows have taken place on Wednesdays and Fridays. On July 16, the playground welcomed instructors from the Hannah Kroner School of Dance, in Albertson, who gave lessons.