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Metroparks Meetup: Inclusive playground at Secor Metropark for kids/adults of all abilities

ADA-accessible play structure contains plenty of interactive elements
Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 9:14 PM EDT
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BERKEY, Ohio (WTVG) - Sights, sounds and plenty of slides: a world-class inclusive playground at Secor Metropark has already proven fun for kids and adults of all abilities for a few years, though it’s a little off the beaten path.

“We started out just making a fun playground, then took it from there and asked ‘How do we make this inclusive and accessible for the whole community?’” says special projects manager Joe Fausnaugh. “We just thought about all the different challenges that someone might have in being able to take advantage of this wonderful play structure -- taking the original design and tweaking it, adding sensory aspects and ramps. Every time we had a challenge, we found a way to overcome it.”

The result at Secor’s Lone Oak area is a cavalcade of carefree, barrier-free fun. The complex is full of interactive elements, from colorful sunbeams shining on the soft ground to nature sounds and music notes on command. As Fausnaugh puts it, “We thought a lot about the various senses and how to engage children with touch, feel, color, sound -- so if there’s an element you like or don’t like, you can choose to either engage with or avoid it.”

Gary Mossburg with the Ability Center of Greater Toledo says the Metroparks play a key role in making the county as accessible as possible. “We live out in Williams County, so we’ll stop at playgrounds between here and Toledo for my daughter... and this is by far the greatest I’ve seen,” he says. “This equipment is ADA-accessible, meaning that the ramps are all to spec, making it easy for someone in a wheelchair to manually get up and transcend.”

That attention to detail allows him to enjoy good-natured fun in the heart of nature, right alongside his daughter, Sydney. “At most parks and playgrounds, you have to sit back and you can’t participate,” Mossburg explains. “When you have a disabled parent and able-bodied child, to be able to interact that way... I can’t explain how it makes you feel.”

While parks like Wildwood takes the lion’s share of attention, this hidden gem is a mere 7 miles west, heading straight down Central Avenue. Fausnaugh says that “if you broaden your horizons a little bit, you may have a new favorite park by the end of the day.”

As for future installations, you can expect to see a carryover for many elements: “We’ll take what we’ve learned here and apply it to the next playground that we build, so aspects of this will show up in multiple other projects that we do.”

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