A Playground for All: Redesigned Marshall Park to include accessible features that accommodate kids and adults of all skill levels

Cody Goldberg believes that playgrounds should be accessible and inclusive for everyone.

Take the Chelsea Anderson Memorial Playground at Marshall Park in Vancouver, for example.

Where there are wood chips, he envisions paths that children in wheelchairs can travel safely. Where there are monkey bars and ladders, he sees a large artificial grass hill where children of all ages and abilities can play together. Where there is concrete, he sees room for community gardens, native plants and trees.

“Most playgrounds aren’t designed for everyone, especially children and families with disabilities, and that’s a problem,” Goldberg said. “Too often they leave these vital members of our communities on the sidelines. They are inaccessible to caregivers. They lack nature. They do not stimulate the imagination. Even children who can access it get bored quickly. Above all, they do not allow everyone to play together.

Goldberg first envisioned a “radically inclusive” playground in 2009 after her 5-year-old daughter, Harper, who uses a walker, got stuck in the wood chips of a play structure. made him realize that most traditional play structures — think woodchips, slides, and monkey bars — needed improvement.

As he began to think and research what an accessible playground might look like, he realized another realization: in addition to being accessible, playgrounds should also serve as places to gather. The way they are designed should encourage community connection and growth, he said.

In 2010, Goldberg took his vision and design experience to Portland, where he founded the non-profit organization Harper’s Playground. In 2012, construction began on the first project, at Arbor Ridge Park in Portland.

Harold B. McConnell