Crescent Creek Park
Gig Harbor, Washington
When it was no longer possible to find replacement parts to make this park’s aging playground accessible for all abilities, it was time for the community to start planning for a truly inclusive play space. Winning the Together We Play™ contest was a great start, resulting in an award of inclusive playground equipment from Landscape Structures and Shane’s Inspiration project development, design services and comprehensive educational programming.
Both Landscape Structures and Shane’s Inspiration enjoy working with communities to explore the realm of possibility. “There can be obstacles, yes. But shoot for the stars and land on the moon,” encourages Brad Thornton of Shane’s Inspiration. “We’ll give them the tools, including fundraising tools, to get them off and running.” "Shoot for the stars and land on the moon."International Director of Project Development, Shane’s Inspiration
One thing the community wanted to retain was a maritime theme, according to Stephanie Payne of the Gig Harbor Maritime PlayZone, the committee that spearheaded this project. Consulting photos provided by local fishermen, Shane’s Inspiration and Landscape Structures created a playful fishing vessel that looks just like the real ones in the city’s harbor.
John Larson, a Landscape Structures playground consultant with PlayCreation, helped guide the mix of imaginative play events that greets children of all abilities. “Along the outside of the vessel are different barnacles and sea creatures that provide a sensory experience, all at wheelchair height,” describes Stephanie. There is an ADA-accessible wheelhouse featuring moving parts, a climbing net spread out like a fishing net and a spinner that looks like a giant buoy.
One boy boarded the vessel with the aid of his walker, then completely abandoned it to climb on the nets. “It’s hard for kids with disabilities to get on a real boat, but now they can get on this one,” says Stephanie.
“The exercise that Shane’s had us do at the very beginning was critical in getting our community involved right away,” touts Stephanie. First they met with a group of 40 adults, then they held a crayon session with the kids. “Adults haven’t been on the playground for awhile,” Brad explains. “So when the kids come in, it’s just magical. One girl had taken recycled items from her home and built a display of what she wanted to see on the playground.”
A boy’s drawing of a lighthouse sprouting octopus tentacles was given to Shane’s Inspiration and Landscape Structures for inspiration. In response, a custom rock covered in a variety of indigenous sea creatures was created. Kids have to dig through the sand to find them all.
Play Away the Differences
A playground like the one at Crescent Creek Park can make a huge impact. The implementation of educational inclusive programming and guidance provided by Shane’s Inspiration—in which typically-abled kids are regularly paired with kids with disabilities for play and socialization—keeps this project going well beyond opening day.
"It’s different than anything out there. It has a sense of place and a sense of community as well as a sense of play."Gig Harbor Maritime PlayZone “It’s a legacy project,” states Brad. “We believe the playground is the way this generation can move from bias to acceptance.”