A brand new park has come to the Lansing area and it is not just your ordinary everyday play structure.
Play Michigan, an all-inclusive playground, opened its gates on Friday, Sept. 15th and has a number of accessible features for children with disabilities to utilize.
Among other features, the playground has charging stations for wheelchairs, inclusive swings, Braille and Sign Language panels, a pavilion, a quiet area, an inclusive seesaw, and ramps that reach all the way to the top of the play structure.
“If you’re in a wheelchair you can access any part of the playground,” said Laurie Baumer, CEO and President of Capital Region Community Foundation. “There is also a tool that can be used for someone in a wheelchair to transfer themselves onto a slide. There are two sets of monkey bars, one of traditional height and one within wheelchair height. An abled child and a child in a wheelchair could play side by side.”
According to Baumer, the project cost over $3.2 million and is the first accessible playground in the tri-county area. She added that the next closest location is in Grand Rapids in Commerce Township.
Jessica Gonzalez lives a short distance away from Play Michigan. Gonzalez and her child planned to visit the playground as soon as it had opened.
“I’m a single parent living here, so I don’t see a lot of kids,” said Gonzalez. “So, it’s kind of nice for my kid to interact with other kids down here. It’s really nice, I was not expecting all the fancy toys and everything to come together so well.”
Gonzalez went on to add that the rubber flooring was the best feature of the play structure.
“Kids nowadays play super rough, they don’t pay attention, they hit themselves on the head, so I’m kind of glad that they have that more protective [flooring] where it would be non-damaging to the head when they fall,” said Gonzalez.
Joel Morales had been waiting for the play structure to be completed since it was announced so he and his grandson could visit.
“Once it was built, it was like game on!” said Morales. “We’ve been waiting for this! The zipline is the best, he loves it. It’s something he’s able to play with on his own which is great.”
Morales and his grandson live in the area. Morales added that it was very exciting that a nice play structure had been installed near their house.
There is more to Play Michigan than just being a playground. The area can be utilized for community gathering as well.
“There’s the park, water feature, a wide boardwalk that fits two wheelchairs going in opposite directions, and a fully accessible dock that kids regardless of ability can use to access the water safely,” said Baumer.
Gonzalez added that the play structure was great for the Lansing community as a whole.
“This is just really nice to actually see people come together, hang out, have the kids hang out with other kids, and experience the diversity,” said Gonzalez. “It’s really nice to see that and I really just hope Lansing will keep it clean and respect it for the kids.”
Play Michigan is located on the corner of N. Grand Ave and E. Saginaw St, across from Lansing Community College and right on the Grand River. Street parking and a parking lot with disability parking spaces are available.