Healy Field Update

We have just been updated on the renovation status of Healy Field in Roslindale. Construction is scheduled to begin this Spring now that Fallon Field, another major Roslindale playground, has re-opened this fall. We are particularly invested in Healy Field because we met with the design team at Copley Wolff last spring. In the meeting, we discussed ways to better incorporate inclusivity in their initial designs. You can find the original plans and our feedback in our Healy Report. You may remember us talking about this meeting in our first blog post.

We are proud to see that some of our suggestions were included in the final design. Some examples include a relocation of the stream to allow for better navigation across the park, the reduction of the non-inclusive netted climbing structure, and a replacement of the original merry-go-round with a wheelchair accessible version that is flush to the ground. More details of the final design were analyzed by our friends over at Roslindale Wants to Play which you can find linked below.



Brewer Burroughs Playground

Today we are presenting one of the “hidden jewels” of Jamaica Plain: Brewer Burroughs Playground, otherwise known as the “Tot Lot”. Check it out if you’re ever in the area!

The "Tot Lot" has a variety of equipment that will certainly entertain the little ones
The “Tot Lot” has a variety of equipment that will certainly entertain the little ones
  • Location: Brewer St, between Burroughs St and Eliot St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 Jamaica Plain
  • Age Groups: mainly toddlers and young children
  • Inclusivity/Inclusive Elements:
    • Disc swing
    • Drums
    • Rubber flooring
  •  Favorite element in playgrounds:
    • Solar system play panel
    • Sandbox
    • Playhouse
  •  Features:
    • This playground has several varieties of toys for toddlers and children to play with
    • It is in close proximity to stores and restaurants where you can stop by for a snack
    • Accessible parking behind the playground
  • Great if you’re looking for:
    • A quiet playground with an easy to navigate layout
    • Well-maintained structural equipment
    • A playground with a clear barrier that separates toddler play from hazardous areas
    • Seating with a backrest that is shaded and has open space on either side for a wheelchair
  • Keep looking if:
    • You’re looking for motion-based equipment (such as a group disc swing, merry go round) that is wheelchair accessible
    • You’re looking for physically-challenging equipment for older children

Inclusive Play: Why it matters

Hello inclusive play enthusiasts! This past week, while doing research we stumbled upon an article that talks about inclusive play and given its relevance, we wanted to share it on here.

When people ask what The Playground Project does, we say that we research and advocate for inclusive play spaces in the greater Boston area – but not everyone understands exactly what inclusive play is. People most often picture wheelchair accessible spaces when they hear this, but inclusive play is much more than accessibility: inclusive play stresses the importance of and benefits for people of all abilities to play together. And the emphasis (as you might’ve noticed) is in the word “together” because is is crucial when talking about inclusive play. When a playground facilitates and encourages the interaction and integration of kids of all abilities, an opportunity is created. An opportunity for the creation of a positive and welcoming environment and the development of cognitive, sensory and social skills, all important in a child’s development.

While accessible playgrounds help to ensure that people of different physical abilities have access to the playground, it often does not do enough to cater to the needs of children with mental disabilities. Apart from wheelchair ramps and accessible swings, for example, an inclusive playground would have equipment for children with these mental disabilities to interact and integrate into the environment. And here is where equipment with sensory play and water play come into… well… play.

If you enjoyed our take on inclusive play and why it matters, take a look at the article below for more! If you want to know more about sensory play and water play, make sure to check back soon for a sneak peek of a project that our research team has been working on.

Hemsworth, Jerri. “Inclusive Play and Accessible Play: What’s The Difference?” Inspiring Play Magazine. N.p., 27 Nov. 2012. Web. 28 Mar. 2016. <http://inspiringplay.com/inclusive-play-and-accessible-play-whats-the-difference/>.

Making connections with the designer community

Two weeks ago, three of our members met with Clara Batchelor and Megan Tomkins of CBA Landscape Architects, LLC and Cathy Baker-Eclipse of Boston Parks and Recreation to discuss the renovation design of the Roberts Playground. Although the design was pretty much finalized, we were still able to offer some feedback on the design with a focus on our favorite topic: inclusivity. As in our meeting with Copley Wolff Design, we spoke of the elements that we loved, as well as adding or doing some minor edits to the design.

Elements such as dish swings and the inclusion of musical instruments and an amphitheater were amongst our favorite topics to discuss, and we were excited to see that this was part of the design already, given that cognitive play and inclusive play structures have been strong elements in the inclusive playgrounds that we have visited. We provided some suggestions to add more cognitive play and imaginative play with elements such as a playhouse and voice boxes. In addition, we discussed the importance of having a space for kids with autism to be on their own, and were glad to see the inclusion of a small area intended for kids to “look over the playground” and have some time of their own. Our suggestion to add more shade for children with sensitive skin was regarded with positivity, and there was a particular excitement around the idea of adding shadow play to the design in order to have an innovative imaginative play element. Overall, we had a successful meeting, and we were happy to build more connections with more members of the designer community in the Boston area. We look forward to other opportunities to advocate for inclusivity in playground design.

Friends, baked goods, and inclusive design

This blog post marks the start of the spring semester in the third year of the Playground Project: INDIGO’s existence. After a long period of experimentation and taking on different projects in the name of inclusive design, we seem to be zeroing in on exactly how we can best help the community and improve the world around us. We begin this semester with seven of our members in Boston, some in classes and some on co-op. Luckily, Grace is here this semester to bring her delicious desserts to every meeting!

In hopes of accomplishing as much as possible, we decided to switch things up a little and break the group into smaller teams- each with a centralized focus. While continuing to meet weekly as a whole group, we have created groups specializing in playground design research, website improvement, and the documentation of our various endeavours. We will assess the effectiveness of this choice over the course of the semester.
A large part of our research and advocacy involves attending community meetings around the Boston area, during which we aim to serve as a resource to designers and enthusiastic parents who are eager to participate in the process of playground designs or renovations. Roslindale, a residential neighbourhood located in Boston, MA, has been one of the communities with which we have established a close relationship with by attending community meetings and hearing the needs and wants of the community. These meetings have allowed us to not only hear what parents and children want in their playgrounds, but to think of the best way in which inclusivity and accessibility can be integrated into the design. They have also allowed us to make connections with playground designers and Boston city officials- connections that seem to be paying off.

Copley Wolff Design Group, designers in charge of the renovations of the Healy Playground in Roslindale

Today, four of our members met with the designers of the Healy Playground and Cathy Baker-Eclipse of Boston Parks and Recreation to offer our feedback after the initial design was proposed at the community meeting two weeks ago. With a focus on inclusivity, we spoke about the elements of the design that we liked very much, relatively small and/or simple fixes that we think would make the playground more inclusive, and some more extreme and/or cost intensive possibilities. It was extremely exciting to see how seriously our thoughts and input were taken by the designers. They took notes, asked questions, and were truly receptive to what we had to say. It’s nice to see how seriously people take you when you really know what you’re talking about- and when it comes to creating inclusive play spaces, we believe that we are very well versed and are committed to continuously learning as much as we can. After a fantastic meeting, the cherry on top came when Ms. Baker-Eclipse asked if we would be interested in meeting with another design team to discuss inclusivity. Is this the birth of The Playground Project: INDIGO Consulting Firm? If it is we’re definitely going to have to work on the name.