The final product of the inclusive playground will be accessible to parents and kids alike. courtesy

Inclusive playground to be built in Tulsa

The new playground in Whiteside Park will accommodate children and parents with all different kinds of disabilities.

Last Thursday, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum announced the plans to construct and unveil an inclusive playground in the heart of Tulsa, just down the street from campus around 41st St. and Harvard Ave.

Currently, Whiteside Park looks like a fun space to play, but it is not as inclusive as it could be. It does not cater to children with wheelchairs, sensory disabilities or other diagnoses. It also does not cater to parents who have disabilities, who bring their children to the park to have fun. With the installation of this new playground, Whiteside Park will become one of the largest and most inclusive play spaces in the state of Oklahoma.

“This is one of the projects I am most excited about in the whole city,” Bynum announced. “As we seek new ways to build community in Tulsa, children from throughout the region will be able to use this new inclusive playground.”

When the Gathering Place was unveiled as Tulsa’s riverfront park, it was advertised for its inclusivity, bringing together people from all different areas and ethnicities. On the website, it is said that the Gathering Place is “committed to creating a gathering space that is a recreational, civic and cultural destination for all walks of life to enjoy, promoting inclusivity in [Tulsa].”

There are events throughout the year to showcase different cultures. There are also play areas dedicated to specific sensory play and long walkways to use as opposed to stairs. The sprawling park was a first for Tulsa, and it seems to have encouraged the construction of more inclusive parks.

Jill Moore is an inclusive play specialist who assisted in designing the new Whiteside Park. A wheelchair user herself with a design background, she tied her own experiences into her plans for the park.

“One of my favorite features of this playground is how many play options it has for children who are staying in their mobility devices,” Moore said. “There are also many options for a child’s range of motion, no matter where they are in their sensory development. For children with sensory disabilities, Autism diagnoses, even ADHD and dyslexia, the variety of sensory play in this space provides ample opportunity to seek out what a child’s sensory system is craving.”

The playground at Whiteside Park will feature wheelchair ramps, but also inclusive walkways, slides and teeter-totters. In addition to the playground, the restrooms will also be renovated to be a fully accessible family bathroom. There will be a height-adjusting changing table, automatic doors, grab bars and ADA-compliant fixtures. Not only are these changes made to be inclusive for children, but to be inclusive for adults as well.

Anna America is the Chief of Culture and Recreation and Parks Director, and she was present when the news was unveiled.

“Children are constantly learning through play, by making new friends, sharing, taking turns, and interacting with other children,” America said. “When all children can play side-by-side no matter their background or ability, it creates life lesions and new friendships.”

Thanks to The Burnstein Foundation donating $1.2 million, this project is able to be accomplished. Sanford and Irene Burnstein were eager to share their vision of an inclusive Tulsa with city officials.

“Stan and I had a vision that children of all ages and abilities could gather together to play, explore, and learn from one another. My family celebrates this vision with the announcement of the plans for a playground that will bring joy and fun to so many,” Irene Burnstein said.

Construction will begin in 2023.

Post Author: Myranda New