As a mom of two boys, I’m grateful to live in a region with many family-friendly amenities and activities. AWS Foundation provides grant funding to make social activities, programs, and spaces inclusive through our social enrichment initiative. As I was planning my summer activities with my children, I thought it would be helpful to share more information about where you can find inclusive outdoor spaces.
If you’re looking for fun, accessible, summer activities, here are some of my favorites.
Winona Lake Limitless Park was created to ensure everyone has the chance for “limitless” play. The original master plan for Winona Lake Park and Recreation was to exceed ADA guidelines by incorporating universal design in all areas. The park includes accessible equipment and infrastructure, including accessible water features. Winona Lake has added an adaptive kayak/canoe boat launch that provides a safe and accessible way for adaptive paddlers, those in wheelchairs, and others with limited mobility to enter and exit a boat more easily. To provide full barrier-free water access to Winona Lake, the park also has WaterWheels wheelchairs that are available for use during park hours.
Eagle Marsh is an 831-acre wetland nature preserve located on the southwest border of Fort Wayne. With 14+ miles of trails, visitors have a chance to observe the wetland habitats that contain various wetland plant species, birds, amphibians, and reptiles. Eagle March constructed a fully-accessible trail that provides access and inclusiveness to all individuals wishing to enjoy and immerse themselves in the marsh experience.
If you’re looking to plan a visit and you need specific accommodations, you can contact Eagle Marsh at email@example.com or call 260-478-2515. The accessible floating trail is available 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday-Thursday and is located on the north side of the Eagle Marsh barn, visible to your left as you drive to the barn down the gravel road from Engle Road.
Designed for everyone, Promenade Park was designed for maximum accessibility. While some of my favorite features include the zero-entry splash pad area and the accessible play areas, here’s a list of all the park’s accessible features:
- Gradual sloping walking paths that meet or exceed ADA standards.
- Intentional pathways for easy navigation.
- Patterns in the pavilion floor that accommodate challenges associated with Parkinson’s Disease.
- Multiple family restrooms.
- Full-length mirrors in restrooms.
- Priority parking along Wells Street.
- Children’s play areas designed with accessibility in mind.
- Floating docks for ease in and out of kayaks and canoes.
- Pathway designs with 5-foot turn radius to accommodate wheelchairs.
- Wheelchair seating availability at exterior tables.
- Water fountains with ground-level bowls for service animals.
- Zero-entry splash pad area.
- Density and abundance of shade for comfort.
- Landscaping features plants that make sound as the wind blows.
- Landscaping features plants with significant texture.
- Quick-draining soil that allows for easier access after rain.
The story of this park is important to share. Located in Huntington, this park is named after a young man, Drake, that was in an accident that took his life at just 15. The inspiration for the park came from a friendship Drake formed with a boy named Carter when he was just 3 years and spanned until Drake’s passing. Drake’s friends and family wanted to create something in memory of him. The all-inclusive park in Huntington, stands where Drake and Carter’s played together. Features of the park include:
- Artificial turf for accessibility
- Wheelchair accessible equipment
- Activity and sensory panels
- Crawl through equipment
- A variety of equipment to enable children of all skill levels to explore and play together.
This playground was Indiana’s first “Boundless Playground,” which was designed to give children with disabilities the opportunity for unstructured play. Throughout this playground, there are several different pods, which all have a specific purpose and design. The park is located inside of Kreager Park. Read more about the Fort Wayne Parks commitment to Inclusive Recreation here.
Whicker Park was also created to ensure everyone – regardless of age or ability – could participate in various activities. The park includes typical equipment found at most playgrounds but also includes features such as:
- Artificial turf, which provides better access for wheelchairs and walkers.
- A wheelchair-accessible Pavilion with accessible picnic tables
- Drinking fountains at various heights.
As you’re spending time outdoors this summer in NE Indiana, share more about your favorite spaces and any ideas of what you think might be missing at firstname.lastname@example.org.