Great Bend will soon have a destination pocket playground that will provide a place to play for people of all ages and abilities. The master plan for “My Back Yard,” to be located at the GBRC Activity Center, 2715 18th St., was unveiled Monday at the Great Bend Recreation Commission meeting.
“It will offer enough challenges for children who are typically developing as well as those with limited abilities,” reported Diann Henderson, executive director of the Recreation Commission.
The estimated cost of the playground pieces presented in the GBRC Playground Master Plan are approximately $275,000, not including installation, and such site amenities as benches, shade structures, a walking trail and site enhancements such as a sensory garden and a memorial walkway. The City of Great Bend and the Makinna Ann Hope Foundation have already stepped forward with letters of support for the project, and other community partnerships and donations will be sought in order to allow construction to begin as early as the spring of 2016.
“This is going to be a great, collaborative effort, said Kyle Krebaum, president of the Makinna Ann Hope Foundation. “This will allow children of all abilities to play together.” The rec commission accepted a letter of support from the foundation in the amouont of $70,000 to be used for the playground.
Playing it smart
The plan includes such features as a walking trail around the perimeter of the two play areas so that walking can be encouraged while children play; plenty of shade and benches, development of a sensory garden that encourages natural learning and relaxation; a memorial walkway that separates the 2-5 year old play area and the 5-12 year old play area; play components such as rock climbers, roller slide, spinners, a Cozy Dome, Smart Play Motion, Swoosh Slide, Net Plex, Flex Climber, Sky Port Climber, Omni Spinner, Bobbly Riders, Wee Saw and Topsy Spinner.
The Smart Play Motion playground piece for 2-5 years olds provides 16 interactive developmentally appropriate skills which includes a tunnel, moveable puzzle pieces, wiggle ladder, sand play station with sifters and seats, leaf trail, race car hot wheel track that winds through the playground piece that allows children to send balls or their toy cars down the track, sensory panels, bell ringing, steering wheel, alphabet panel and steppers.
This truly inclusive playground balances physical accessibility, age and developmental appropriateness, and sensory-stimulating play for children of all abilities. “ My BackYard” features such playground equipment as the Omni Spinner, Roller Slide and Wee Saw. The Omni Spinner is and updated version of the old fashion merry-go-round, the Wee Saw is a new take on the traditional seesaws, which are wheelchair accessible and developed for children with developmental delays to play in the same setting as other children.
The Net Plex provides a futuristic climbing experience created from interconnected cables, net tunnels and climbing discs. The playground will include such features as rock climbers, gyro twisters and a variety of spinners.
The ZipKrooz is the latest in a zip line that brings this fast growing recreation sport to a playground in an exciting and safe way. This playground feature includes three total zip lines including a ZipKrooz Assisted seat.
The Makinna Ann Hope Foundation was established in 2008 to provide adaptive equipment for special needs children in the Barton County Area. Kyle and Tasha Krebaum indicated that their daughter, Makinna, was born with global developmental delays in 2005 and subsequently passed away in 2008 due to complications from her rare genetic disorder.
At the time of her passing, her parents chose to establish a foundation in order to help local children with developmental delays to express themselves to their fullest potential. Currently, the foundation has provided specialized adaptive equipment to numerous families. A secondary goal was to establish an inclusive playground which will allow children with special needs to play with other children in a safe and supportive environment.
“After meeting with Diann Henderson, our Board of Directors support a collaborative effort with the Great Bend Recreation Commission to construct a playground designed to allow children of all ages and abilities to play together in one setting.” Krebaum said. “We are pleased to work with the Recreation Commission in order to bring such an important playground to the area.”