Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Kids Together Park-Update

Since it's been three years since we posted on Kids Together playground in Cary, we thought we'd update our blog post about it, and thanks to our new blogger Kat for the great update!

What it is: The story behind the playground is lovely. In 1993 Bruce Brown came to  Cary's Parks & Recreation Advisory Board with the idea for a handicapped-accessible playground. The next year, 7 year old Kristin Holcombe and 6 year old Helen Rittelmeyer (both of whom have sisters with special needs) started a grassroots effort to make the dream come true, organizing fundraising and awareness. Thanks to their efforts and the hard work of the community, they raised over $300,000 and created a non-profit to manage the use of funds. In 2000, the playground was finally a reality. Today the town of Cary owns and operates the park and playground and works in partnership with Kids Together. 

The entire park is 2 acres on a 16 acre plot of wooded land and is officially titled Marla Dorrel Park. The playground itself is named Kids Together Playground and includes a picnic shelter, an open field for possibly tag football, an unmarked concrete slab that is perfect for street hockey, and a basketball court with it's own parking lot for the older kids. A paved greenway trail connects the park to MacDonald Woods Park, which crosses over the highway on a pedestrian bridge. 

The designers wanted the park to be fun for all ages and levels of ability, creating three play zones, "Preschool Play, School Age Discovery, & School Age Active Play". In the playground itself there are:
  • climbing structures with varying degrees of difficulty and width to accommodate all children (two separate structures allow space when the playground is busy)
  • Wheelchair accessible sand table
  • what they call a "Preschool River of Sand"
  • Sand Scoopers / excavators
  • "Water sources located in sand play areas" (not quite a sprayground, but water play regardless)
  • a preschool play area that is fenced in for safety
  • wheelchair accessible chair swings
  • typical swings and baby swings
  • playhouses
  • a green giant dragon sculpture kids can explore (named KATAL, which is an acronym for Kids are Together At Last) over a bouncy surface - it's so unique!
  • really beautiful artistic benches designed by local artists
  • kid friendly plants - designed with the Natural Learning Initiative
The non-profit group has events nearly every month, with their "birthday celebration" in early June. For fun events year round, check out: http://kidstogethercary.org/EventsNNews.htm

What we like: 
What's not to like? The spread out nature of the park is nice so that kids aren't right on top of each other. I also like the variety of things to do. My favorite aspect is that there is something for everyone, so that each member of a family can have fun, special needs or not. The multitude of shaded picnic tables and well-kept facilities (very clean bathrooms) make it perfect for a birthday party or picnic.

What we'd change:

There are only a handful of parking spaces, so on beautiful days or during events it would be hard to find one. Also, it seems to be in a valley so I've had trouble getting reception on my cell, which was frustrating when I needed to contact our play mates. Also, since we live in South Durham, it is quite a trek, but if you're in the area, it's totally worth it. 


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