A Playground for All: Albany YMCA to Build a Fully Adaptive Structure | Community

To make way for the new – what’s billed as mid-Willamette Valley’s first fully inclusive and accessible play structure – first comes the out-with-the-old, aka demo, or at least repurposing part.

On Thursday afternoon, September 8, the atmosphere at the Mid-Willamette Family YMCA vibrated with energy as a group of volunteers dismantled a large children’s play structure. Children cheered as workers carried playground pieces and rolled tires out of the yard. Nearby, Albany Mayor Alex Johnson II smiled at the scene.

The event, the first phase of a larger revitalization project, set the stage for the fully responsive and fully accessible playground.

“There are thousands of children who come to the YMCA with physical challenges,” said Tino Barreras, YMCA communications director. “We want to make sure there are no limits or obstacles for them to learn, grow and play with everyone else.”

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The idea for the new playground was floated a year and a half ago but only gained momentum in May when the project caught the attention of the Republic Services Charitable Foundation, said Barreras.

Recognizing the value of the facility’s efforts, Republic Services awarded the YMCA $250,000 through its National Neighborhood Promise program.

Republic City Manager Julie Jackson said the playground project “just seemed like the perfect fit” for the highly selective grant because of its focus on inclusivity for all children, regardless of age. or their capacity.

“We’re so thrilled to give them the money and so proud of the work they’re doing,” Jackson said.

Modular in design, the new 7,200 square foot playground will include slides for kids to strap into, multiple swings and wheelchair ramps. It will also sit on a special type of turf that absorbs sound and friction, ensuring that even the ground accommodates children with sensory and physical disabilities.

“Each piece was designed for any type of special need, while being fun for anyone who wants to play on a playground,” Jackson said.

“Kids of all skill levels will be able to participate in this new playground, which is really exciting,” Barreras said. “We want to make sure no one feels left out.”

Meanwhile, the deconstructed playground should be reassembled at Mighty Explorer Preschool, 325 Pacific Blvd., for continued use.

Even with the grant, the YMCA is underfunded, by $500,000, Barreras said. To learn more about the project or to donate, visit www.ymcaalbany.org.

The new structure is expected to be fully completed in the fall of 2023. Excavations to make way for the turf will begin next week.

“It will be a safe and friendly place for children who have disabilities or conditions that don’t allow them to play in traditional playgrounds,” Jackson said. “I just hope it becomes a destination for families with all kinds of kids.”

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