New universal playground allows students with mobility limitations to play alongside their peers at Richardson Center
Because of the physical limitations of Richardson Center’s orthopedically impaired population, some students have been unable to easily climb on the center’s playground structures, swing on the swings, get into the playhouses or move into the sandpit.
That has changed thanks to the attitude of the staff to provide only the best.
The center unveiled Bakersfield’s first-of-its-kind adaptive playground at a preschool in Bakersfield, which was designed and built to allow students with mobility constraints to enjoy the playground with their peers.
“Preschool is the time that children learn to play—and a preschool without appropriate play areas was not the best we could do,” said Richardson Center principal Angie Bertran-Harris.
A project to improve the center’s playground and make it more accessible grew organically. Once the buzz started, it took on a life of its own. Everyone on the campus participates in some way on this project. There were design and fundraising committees.
The project was paid for through fundraiser proceeds, supplemented by a community block grant with the help of Supervisor Leticia Perez, who was on hand during the playground dedication on Nov. 18, 2016.
The new accessible playground project is multi-faceted. An expansive play structure provides the centerpiece, complete with ramps to allow walker and wheelchair access without adult help. Sand and wood chips that provide footing for traditional play areas gave way to a spongy, solid material that allows easy access.
“This is definitely an exciting time for us. Our families expend great effort to get the best for their children, and the staff at the Richardson Center search for ways to provide it,” said Bertran-Harris. “Success breeds success. When you are good, you want to get better.”