By Andy Jones
On July 10, I attended the commemoration and launch of a new universally accessible play area at the north end of Central Park. The event was hosted by City Councilwoman Rochelle Swanson, and supported by other city dignitaries such as Davis Board of Education member Gina Daleiden and Will Arnold, a field representative for state Sen. Lois Wolk and longtime supporter of Summer House, the nonprofit that supports Yolo County adults with developmental disabilities.
I was really touched by the words of the community activists and government officials who inspired and oversaw the construction of this new playground at our first civic park, and not only because I knew that my family would immediately benefit.
As the parent of a son with special needs, I really appreciate the convivial feeling of inclusion that I and other such parents felt when entering this welcoming gated community of exploration and fun. The “Sway Fun” seesaw, for example, features a small table, long seating areas for groups of friends, and room for a wheelchair or two. Even more fun for us, a sizeable adult such as myself can make the entire apparatus sway vigorously back and forth while those seated enjoy the ride.
“This reminds me of Disneyland,” my son Truman exclaimed, recognizing that the city has become a lot more fun, safe and inclusive for all the children of Davis.
While Truman most appreciates the working water pump that allows him to fill the concrete sluice and thus send water down to the sand pit, my son Jukie loves the swings and the oddly shaped balance bar, a mostly vertical structure that invites climbing and lounging, as well as spinning.
The built-in xylophone, suspended climbing islands and edgeless “omnispinner” will all reward the curiosity of eager children. When Jukie cooled down on a hot day by lying down in the sluice that other kids had just filled with water, he reminded us all that kids with special needs will often find unexpected ways to take advantage of a public play spot. One need no longer visit Napa to enjoy some water spa time!
On behalf of the children and parents of Davis, thanks to all who helped to bring about this welcome addition to our city.
— Andy Jones is a Davis parent, lecturer in the University Writing Program at UC Davis and academic associate director of UCD’s Academic Technology Services. His new book, “Where’s Jukie?,” is available via Amazon.com.