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High-quality parks, playgrounds, and recreation environments play a critical role in promoting community health, creating connections, and building equity for neighborhoods in our community. Research indicates that when stakeholders are engaged in the planning process, evidence-based design principles are implemented with the built environment, and supplemental programming is offered to further enhance user experiences, then positive outcomes occur.
With that in mind, it makes sense that the new East Asheville Library will have a playground that complements the building’s features set to serve as a vibrant hub for discovery and engagement. Following the award of a very competitive Healthy Play and Recreation Intiative grant secured by Buncombe County Recreation Services, the playground will serve as a National Demonstration Site by PlayCore’s Center for Outreach, Research, and Education (CORE) with sensory, active, and passive inclusive play. The grant is sponsored by GameTime, Cunningham Recreation, and the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association. Matching funds from the people of Buncombe County were approved by County Commissioners.
“At the heart of Buncombe County’s mission is a desire to improve the quality of life for all residents – including enriching families through play and discovery,” said Peyton O’Conner, Director of Recreation Services. “The playground is the first of its kind in our area and the designation as a National Demonstration Site allows us to include critical components that support the whole child and whole environment, encouraging neighbors to be more active and social together. It’s a tremendous upgrade to the previous playground on the site and will provide a welcoming, multi-generational space to create community connections and preserve the culture of the neighborhood.”
The outdoor basketball court adjacent to the previous playground has been updated, but everything else about the space packs many new features into the compact space and follow the 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design: Be Fair, Be Included, Be Smart, Be Independent, Be Safe, Be Active, and Be Comfortable.
Recycled plastic timber accents on the roofs and climbers give the playground a fun, rustic look that reference Buncombe County’s heritage and mimics a forest hideaway.
- Spiral, wavy, and double zip slides with accessible transfer platform offer adventure and fun for toddlers to tweens
- Edge, River Rock, Wrinkle Wall, Pod, Sloped Funnel, and Plank climbers encourage vertical and lateral climbing and total body coordination
- Accessible ThunderRing encourages imaginative play on or off the play structure
- Multi-height adaptive steering wheels enhance play experiences through well-organized easy-to-recognize areas while avoiding user conflict
- Enclosed decks and bridges create looping patterns so kids can successfully engage in repetitive, active play to develop skills
- Seat and table for two allow kids to invent games and strengthen creativity
- Sensory spinning seat encourages motion and movement with sensory-rich feedback in a neutral body position
- Multiple swings for the pure, exciting sensation of flight only found on a playground swing
The new playground will open this summer with an official grand opening celebration in the fall.
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