The Miracle League at the Langham Creek Family YMCA, Cleary Family Playground
The idea behind the Langham Creek Family YMCA’s Miracle League adaptive sports complex started with three friends: Alan Wallace, Rodney Finke and Mack Hoehner – all fathers who coached their kids’ baseball teams and wanted to give back to the community in a meaningful way.
Their mission began with a YMCA Miracle League sports field that provided kids with special needs the opportunity to play baseball. Its synthetic turf allows people who rely on mobility devices to move easily across the surface even during times of rain. Inspired by the field’s great success, the men set their sights on creating a larger adaptive complex for children with special needs—including a pavilion to keep families in the shade, office space, a concessions stand, and a barrier-free playground suitable for all children.
The playground – like the sports field – was designed for all children regardless of their age or abilities. As a proud partner of the Langham Creek Family YMCA and Miracle League, Landscape Structures helped design the playground.
Playground products shown in video may not be appropriate for every age group. Playsystems shown in video are for demonstration purposes only. Product configurations may vary.
Houston’s First Adaptive Sports Complex
“The founders of this project wanted its final piece to be a huge inclusive playground that could serve our entire community because nothing like this existed in Houston,” said Matt Thompson, district executive director of the Langham Creek Family YMCA. “Upon completion in 2015, we had created the first and only adaptive sports complex in Houston.”
"The founders of this project wanted its final piece to be a huge inclusive playground that could serve our entire community because nothing like this existed in Houston,"district executive director of the Langham Creek Family YMCA
The complex serves more than 1,000 individuals with special needs who wish to play baseball, flag football, basketball, swimming, tennis and soccer in the nearly 9,000 square-mile Greater Houston area.
Even in its early planning phases, this project garnered immense community support, enabling the YMCA to complete the project entirely through community donations.
“The YMCA Miracle League’s grassroots, community-driven efforts brought a wealth of personal experience from families and children who have special needs to the playground planning process,” said Jane Jenewein, strategic alliance manager with Landscape Structures. “Children who rely on mobility devices are fully accommodated on this playground that offers ramps and extra-wide walkways, oversize swings and so much more,” she said.
Ultimately, the YMCA has created a park that has something to offer every child. The playground enables freedom of movement, whether children use a mobility device or not, with poured-in-place surfacing and a network of decks and ramps that lead to each playground component. To protect children from the heat and UV rays, CoolToppers® are interspersed throughout the play structure. Kids ages 5 to 12 are engaged by PlayBooster components including the Conical Climber™, Gemini SlideWinder2® and a Lollipop Climber with Vibe® Handholds. Kids can climb over, under and through the Evos® Arches with O-Zone® Climber next to the PlayBooster structure.
Surrounding the main playground structure are several freestanding play elements that provide sensory-rich play options. For example, the Sensory Play Center® features a series of tactile, visual and auditory-stimulating panels that engage all children, including those who have special sensory processing needs. Other freestanding play features are the Roller Table™, an Oodle® Swing and the fully wheelchair accessible Sway Fun® Glider.
“One of the best parts of this playground is giving typical kids and their families the opportunity to learn and have a better awareness of what’s around them, so they truly understand what it means to love everyone,”
“We didn’t want the YMCA Miracle League playground to only be a place for kids with special needs. Instead, we incorporated state-of-the-art features that encourage all kids to play together,” Matt said.
Learning to Serve and Love Everyone
The Langham Creek Family YMCA serves more than 215 families through its adaptive programs. Since opening, a number of people in the community have expressed interest in building similar inclusive playgrounds throughout other parts of Houston.
“One of the best parts of this playground is giving typical kids and their families the opportunity to learn and have a better awareness of what’s around them, so they truly understand what it means to love everyone,” said Matt. “It’s awesome to see it being enjoyed in person.”