As landscape architects we are always reminded that everything we do has to be about the Health, Safety, and Welfare of the public. While this is the legal aspect of our profession and sets the standard for our practice it is the way that our projects affect the public in a deeper, more meaningful way that drives us to do the best we can as design professionals. We have been very fortunate at our firm to work with great clients that want the best from their projects and consultants and want to not only do the legal thing but the correct thing, even if it is sometimes harder to achieve.
One great example of such a meaningful project is the new Hoover East Inclusive Playground. We began work on this project in 2012 with a scheduled open date of August 2013 but like many well-conceived plans it did not happen. Thru great efforts by the city, its staff, and a local homebuilder who volunteered countless hours and dollars the project was reborn and we are pleased to announce that as of March 14th is open to the public for use. Like many playgrounds our firm designs there are principals and safety concerns we must follow but unlike most the goal for this playground was to not only be safe and enjoyable but be inclusive.
The new Hoover East Inclusive Playground is Alabama’s first Me2 certified playground and we believe the state’s first 100% inclusive playground. During the design process we worked diligently to ensure that every corner and piece of the playground could be accessible by children of all needs, be it site, hearing, or physically impaired.
When visiting the site with my own kids last weekend I met a local family with a child that had a hearing impairment. It was wonderful to speak with the parents and see how much they enjoyed the playground and the opportunities it provided their child. I also spoke to a local preacher and his family who moved here from Nebraska. As parents of two small children they were particularly excited to have the new playground and were even more excited when they learned how and why the playground was designed to be inclusive.
As meaningful as both of these encounters were for me it is a little girl named Addie that I have never met and her experiences at the playground that are speaking volumes to me and reminding me why working long nights and many weekends is worth every second of the time I put in. I will not tell her story or about her experiences at the playground, her family can do that much better than I can (Addie’s story). I did not go searching for Addie or her story and never would have but as things sometimes happen her story found me. I cannot explain how meaningful this little girls experience is to me nor have I been able to tell her in person myself (yet) but I am happy feeling that what I have been a part of in such a small capacity has already touched at least one life in a positive manner.
I take great pride in being a Landscape Architect and am honored to have been involved in such a meaningful and beautiful project that is already touching the lives of those in my community.
To learn more about inclusive play, Me2, or Addie please follow one of the hyperlinks within the blog.
Tony Renta, ASLA