Adding 9 structures to the playground at Raab Park will expand the footprint to 9,000 square feet of inclusive fun. (courtesy photo)

‘All-inclusive’ playground coming to Poulsbo

A local community group has been working with the city of Poulsbo, Poulsbo Rotary Club and the Kitsap Community Foundation to raise money for new “all-inclusive” playground equipment at Frank Raab Park.

The group has been working since 2018 to make Raab Park a “Play for All” park with playground equipment that is wheelchair accessible and provides sensory-based entertainment for children with disabilities.

The existing playground isn’t going anywhere but up to nine new structures will be placed in the area, expanding the playground to up to 9,000 square feet.

“We’re very excited to bring this new play equipment to Raab Park,” group chair Debra Vaughan said. “Our vision is of a playground enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their capability. This playground will be wheelchair friendly with ADA-compliant equipment, sensory areas, and plenty of fun things to swing and spin on.”

The group aims for construction of the playground to begin in Spring of 2022.

The project has a price tag of $800,000 and the potential for state and federal grants, but only if those funds can be matched through public fundraising.

One way the public can contribute is to purchase engraved plaques in the shapes of lady bugs, butterflies and dragonflies that will be placed in the new playground pathways. The plaques can be purchase at poulsborotary.org/play-for-all/ and range in price from $250 (ladybug) to $500 (butterfly) to $1,000 (dragonfly). General donations are also appreciated.

Those interested can learn more through a Zoom event March 21 at 3 p.m. RSVP by emailing contact@playforallpoulsbo.org.

Playgrounds are often the only places where families with children with physical, neurological and social disabilities can gather and not struggle to feel part of the community. The playground will also benefit young people and adults with disabilities as it provides them with an activity that gets them outdoors and offers new sensory based activities, especially physical movement that contributes to their overall health.

“Play is so important to optimal child development that the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights has recognized it as a right of every child. Free play leads to higher self-esteem and creative/critical thinking. These benefits have been noted in all children, so, the group determined, our playgrounds need to accommodate all children,” Vaughan said.

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