The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University

Our Developmental Playground is Now a Reality!

Playground Thanks to the support of many people, the dream of a playground designed especially for very young children with developmental disabilities and delays has become a reality!

View photos of the playground dedication here.

DONORS AND VOLUNTEERS: This state-of-the-art playground is the result of the generous financial support from friends and supporters of the CPD. Their gifts will have a lasting and profound impact as this playground serves as a model for similar playgrounds around the country, influencing the lives of countless children. This project has provided a powerful example of the difference our friends and supporters can make for all of our programs at the CPD.

It's about people video

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DESIGNERS: The vision for the new playground came from experts at the CPD who are well aware of the many benefits of play; how it stimulates physical and social development, fosters language, and even helps a restless child relax.

Occupational therapist Amy Henningsen and Sue Olsen, the exemplary services director who is over the Up to 3 Early Intervention program at the CPD, worked with Justin Wilson, a graduate student in USU's Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning department to come up with designs and playground features that would encourage the development of very young children.

DETAILS: The definition of a wonderland is a place that is beautiful, strange, and exciting... and that just about describes what the children experience when they first step onto the playground. But, this playground is more than just a pretty place to play. Because of the specific detail given to adding just the right equipment, this developmental playground becomes an outdoor therapy space for young children with developmental delays.

From the great hill and accessible walkways that invite large muscle movement, to the swings and spinning bowl at the bottom of the hill that provides balance and vestibular (movement in space) stimulation, the children have many opportunities to improve their developmental skills.

There are activities on hand that encourage language and social skills; a speaking tube (underground phone system) that sends messages to a friend, a castle just right for saving princesses from pretend dragons.

The sounds of the colorful xylophone echoing through the air, the delighted laughter as cool water splashes on faces, and the fragrant, textured desert plants are evidence that children's senses are being stimulated.

In this playground, there is something for everyone. Built into all of these stimulating activities are quiet places to sit, where children can go who get over-whelmed and need to wind down a little before getting back into the action.

We know that play is a child's work. A playground that is filled with activities that stimulate the body, the mind, and the senses becomes a wonderland of therapy to young children with developmental delays.

FUTURE PLANS: Quick-growing trees and colorful umbrellas are to be added to the playground to bring relief on hot summer days. As further donations come in, plans are in the works to add a giant busy box with thingamajigs, doohickeys, and whatchmacallits that will challenge the children's cognitive and fine motor skills as they turn knobs and pull levers to see what will happen.

Already, this one-of-a-kind playground has drawn the attention of one USU graduate researcher who studied the impact that different types of play environments have on the social interactions of children with disabilities. As time goes on, other researchers will see an opportunity to explore the impact that a therapeutic playground can have on children with disabilities.

The Developmental Playground will provide hours of fun and therapy for hundreds of young children in the years to come.

Thank you for your support!