Minnehaha Falls Regional Park held a grand opening for two new play areas Thursday, one of which marked the first universally accessible playground in the Minneapolis park system.
The universal access play area, located at the Waburn Picnic Area, includes significantly more options for disabled children to be involved, with more ramps, paths and rubberized surfacing throughout.
Every park board playground in the city meets requirements set by the Americans with Disabilities Act, but universally accessible play areas have far more features – at least 70 percent – designed for use by disabled children.
The second playground, located near the band shell at the North Plateau, underwent renovations to create a safer environment for children, while complementing existing equipment. Built in 1906, it was one of the first sites to receive swings and a merry-go-round in the park system, according to a park board press release.
Grand opening ceremonies for the play areas included a ribbon cutting at North Plateau with activities, snacks and dedication speakers to follow at Wabun. A commissioned dance is set to close the festivities.
Wabun play area was designed to mirror its Auto Tourist Camp roots, which was once located at the site. The playground boasts a 1930’s-inspired play car and camper, as well as tents and “cabin-like” spaces. Other features include sand play and a quieter space surrounded by a sensory garden.
Volunteer committee Falls 4 All helped raise more than $450,000 through grants, donations and fundraisers to help build the universal play area. Other funding for the projects was provided the Parks and Trails Fund, as well as a host of other agencies.