ITS GONNA BE ALL INCLUSIVE
By Edie Johnson
New Windsor Recreation, under the guidance of Rec Director Matt Veronisi, Supervisor George Green, and Chief of Staff Colin Schmitt, is well on its way to having the best and most inclusive Playground in the entire region. Two earlier installed sections will soon be moved to combine with a large square that includes some challenges for every child as well as some that can even be enjoyed by adults and seniors with walking and exercise issues.
The roughly 50 square ft. ground support has a special tactile and giving base that is both encouraging and pleasant on its own, and makes rolling strollers and wheelchairs a breeze. The inviting tactile nature of the base joins bright colored ramps and rails currently has around 15 special challenges, but they plan on many more additions.
The Playground challenges are geared for both enjoyment and physical improvement for all, but with some unique attraction for autism spectrum individuals, including a sound and music unit, and another that provides a tablet of intellectual challenges. But at the forefront of all elements is blending fun into learning and growing.
Colin Schmitt emphasized that security will be high, allowing parents, especially those who deal with specially challenged young, to have a bit of worry-free respite. The unit will be surrounded with safe fencing, so there will be zero concern over children wandering. Video cameras give constant surveillance. And the design included proximity to the Rec Departments very large canopied area so that benches and restrooms are nearby. He added that “In Supervisor George Green’s infinite wisdom, there is a large surrounding parcel of green space behind the playground, for future expansion. This even includes a potential area for active as well as less active senior challenges, which by and large is another part of the population that is underserved when it comes to community physical health services.
One of the soon to be fulfilled goals, for example, is to add a unit to the long swing sets that will accommodate a full wheelchair. And if you look closely at the seesaw, it has a big flat area in the middle where a child unable to stand can lie down and be part of the fun. And it’s specially made so that it can be used by a single child, or two, or with a third in the middle.
To get an idea of the town’s commitment, when they say “All Inclusive” they mean “ALL”. This playground is and is expected to continue to be open to everyone (from anywhere). Asked if Veronisi and Schmitt had any plans for an “ALL INCLUSIVE CHALLENGE CONTEST” in the Fall, they agreed “That’s a great idea, we should do it!”.
(Photos by Edie Johnson)