The $1.2 million inclusive playground at Red-Tailed Hawk in Aurora, Colorado was inspired by 8-year-old Ashaun and his Make-A-Wish experience grant. Ashaun and his family dreamed of a playground where he and his sisters could play alongside other children without the typical boundaries that children in wheelchairs and with cognitive and physical challenges typically face. The 16,000 square foot playground was built by the City of Aurora and opened in 2019 with funding grants from Make-A-Wish, the Rotary Club and Arapahoe County Open Space. Urban Play Studio was selected to lead the design of the new playground and collaborated with City of Aurora staff on all aspects of the project.
Designed to be boundary-free and equitable in use, the playground focuses on a variety of developmental play experiences while engaging all of the senses. Visitors to the playground first experience ‘Ashaun’s Harmonious Harp’, a gateway at the entry plaza that creates music as users pass through. Then, for easy wayfinding, play areas are organized by use and designated by color, texture and song to include swinging, ziplining, spinning, climbing, sliding, music making, and even a retreat nook for those who need a break from the sensory stimulation
Families report first-time play experiences with their children due to the inclusive nature of the playground and selection of universally designed play equipment. The playground design also includes special consideration for parking, shade, electrical outlets for charging equipment, a changing enclosure, and overall ease of circulation… everything needed for a successful, comfortable and fun playground experience for kids of all ages and all abilities.