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Inclusive Playground Addition to Harbor Lodge Family Camp

A new addition has officially arrived at our Lake Martin campus: an expansive, inclusive playground. A growing need to foster inclusivity led to the addition of the $750,000 project. This new development at the Harbor Lodge Family Camp will provide children with physical disabilities opportunities for side-by-side play with abled-bodied children to ensure all campers are given the chance to thrive.

When we identified this need, it gave us the opportunity to research and seek feedback from dedicated parents and camp partners. It was vital we provide a space which caters to diverse abilities, since most public or school playgrounds lack inclusive features. Most playgrounds are accessible: their design ensures individuals with disabilities can access and use the equipment. Our inclusive playground is different: it’s for everyone. With the “for all” mindset at the forefront of our design process, areas of our playground are eliminated that exclude those who have disabilities. The new playground is complete with specialized surfacing, a ramp system, and pathways that accommodate wheelchairs. Musical and sensory elements enrich the play experience for campers.

The benefits of side-by-side play are unmatched. Playing freely contributes to children’s physical and cognitive well-being. It also allows children to refine motor skills, alleviate anxiety, and facilitate exploration, while advancing the development of balance, coordination, and socialization.

Research shows that children with disabilities are acutely aware of what they are missing when they are unable to play with their peers, so these new spaces give many children their only opportunity to interact with others. Children without disabilities appreciate the unique aspects offered on inclusive playgrounds, which aids in fostering understanding and consideration amongst all children.

Thea and Kyle Coutre and their daughter Hannah are on their fourth visit to camp at Children’s Harbor with United Ability. Hannah has down syndrome and attends Hand and Hand, the Early Learning Program of United Ability. “We’re so excited about this new playground! It’s going to give Hannah hours of playtime,” said Thea. “It’s amazing!” Children’s Harbor consulted with United Ability for feedback in the design process of this inclusive playground, and having these and other parents’ reaction to their children’s excitement makes the experience that much more meaningful.

We are eager to better cultivate physical, cognitive, and social growth with this addition to our campus, and are incredibly thankful for the corporate and individual sponsors who generously contributed to this project. We are especially grateful to Regions Bank, the Regions Pavilion located directly across from the play area provides much-needed shade and a place to rest.

See more images of the new inclusive playground here.