JCPRD to open new inclusive playground at Shawnee Mission Park

Shawnee Mission Park
Johnson County Park and Recreation District is adding a new inclusive playground to its park system. The new playground is at Shawnee Mission Park, 7900 Renner Road. Photo courtesy of Johnson County Park and Recreation District

Johnson County Park and Recreation District is opening a new inclusive playground next month at Shawnee Mission Park.

The $1.2 million inclusive playground is designed to go “well beyond” requirements of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, said Deputy Director Jeff Stewart. The purpose of the playground, which is sometimes called a universal playground, is to enable and encourage all to play together without physical or social barriers.

Stewart said the Shawnee Mission Park Inclusive Playground will be the second within the JCPRD park system. The first opened in September 2018 in Stilwell Community Park. Another inclusive playground also opened a couple of years ago in Leawood.

“Each playground has a unique design that offers experiences that all ages can enjoy,” Stewart said.

Notable features include:

  • Access ramps
  • Adaptive swings
  • Low platforms
  • Climbing elements
  • Sensory play elements
  • An area with musical instruments
  • Smooth and textured surfaces
  • A rolling slide table that participants can pull themselves along
  • Sloped play areas with double-wide slides
  • Shade structure with water misters

The project also includes a restroom building with four extra-large stalls meant to provide more space for someone to be able to assist youth with special needs.

A ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the inclusive playground takes place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, July 6 at the park, 7900 Renner Road, Shawnee and Lenexa. The free event, which continues until 1 p.m., will include comments from JCPRD leaders and other local officials, plus giveaways and a hot dog lunch.

The inclusive playground at Shawnee Mission Park as well as the one at Stilwell Community Park were both included in JCPRD’s 2018 capital improvements budget.

Stewart said the majority of the project was funded by the capital improvement plan, but several groups also contributed to either or both of the inclusive playground projects, including:

  • Helen S. Boylan Foundation
  • John and Marney Sherman
  • Royals Charities
  • Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation
  • Sunderland Foundation
  • Overland Park South Rotary Club
  • Reece Nichols Real Estate
  • McKee Foods

Planning and Development Manager Cliff Middleton said ensuring the playgrounds are fun for all participants was a major goal for the projects.

“Hopefully, lots of families will come there, whether they have special needs children or not; they’re just going to come because they’re really fun playgrounds,” Middleton said. “Of course, having something that accommodates kids with special needs will be popular, too.

“There are some common elements between the two (JCPRD inclusive playgrounds), but we did try to make them different enough that you might want to take your family to one on one weekend, and you might want to go to the other the next weekend.”