Play For All! Best Inclusive Playgrounds

All children benefit from the opportunity to play together in inclusive settings, and the Portland area is home to a number of playgrounds that were designed for the needs of kiddos with physical and developmental disabilities in mind. These all-inclusive spots allow all children to play alongside their peers and engage in outdoor, active fun. Read on to find out more about these unique parks and locate one near you.

photo: Harper’s Playground via Facebook 


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Harper’s Playground
After realizing that their daughter, Harper, couldn’t access most playgrounds from her wheelchair, the Goldberg family created the nonprofit Harper’s Playground, which has one park open in Arbor Lodge, one opening in 2017 in Gateway Park, and a third playground currently being designed at Couch Park. Harper’s Playground parks feature at-grade play structures, safety swings, and sensory features like the water and sand station and beloved oversize xylophone found at the Arbor Lodge location.

Where: 2525 N Dekum St. (Arbor Lodge Park)
Hours: Gateway Discovery Park and Couch Playground are in the design and construction process. Check website for opening dates and donate to the cause!).
Online: harpersplayground.org

Dawson Park
The recently renovated playground at Dawson Park features universally accessible play equipment, such as a seated merry-go-round and safety swings, and flat surfacing that’s safe for wheelchairs, walkers, and those with other mobility issues (including wobbly tots!). Dawson Park also features barbecue grills and picnic tables, with mature old-growth trees, and a misting water jet play area—perfect for enjoying the park during the hot summer months to come!

Where: 101 N Morris St.
Hours: 5 a.m.-midnight daily
Online: portlandoregon.gov

photo: Brisbane City Council via flickr

Khunamokwst Park
It may be difficult to say, but it’s easy for everyone to play in! Khunamokwst Park takes it’s name from the Chinook word for “together”, which is fitting, as all abilities are able to enjoy the park together. This park in the heart of the Cully Neighborhood has ramps leading to the play structure, accessible swings, an interactive water feature and play area, rain gardens, and a small beginner-level skate dot, perfect for busting a wheelie. There is also an ADA “Portland Loo” restroom, which is always appreciated when nature calls while out enjoying nature!

Where: 5200 NE Alberta St.
Hours: 5 a.m.-midnight daily
Online: portlandoregon.gov/parks/61985

photo: Lauren C. via yelp

Washington Park
At over 150 acres, Washington Park is one of Portland’s larger parks, so it’s easy to make a day of it! Bring a picnic lunch and sunscreen, and stop to smell the roses. The park features ADA parking spaces and restrooms, paved paths, and an inclusive playground accessed by a grade-level entrance. There’s also a free park shuttle that runs daily May – Sept. that is stroller and ADA friendly. The shuttle will take you from the Washington Park MAX station, to the Oregon Zoo, playground and International Rose Test Garden.

Where: 4033 SW Canyon Rd.
Hours: 5 a.m.–10 p.m. daily
Online: explorewashingtonpark.org

photo: Slow: Children at Nature Play via Facebook

Westmoreland Nature-Based Playground
For a unique playground experience, check out Westmoreland Park’s Nature-Based Playground, which is designed to connect children to nature in a creative-play based environment. The playground features a ramp-accessible slide, accessible pathways and an ADA restroom onsite. Imaginative children (young and old!) will also love the fort and the fairy house building area, while enjoying views of the casting pond in the background.

Where: SE McLoughlin Blvd and Bybee St.
Hours: 5 a.m.–midnight daily
Online: portlandoregon.gov/parks/57822

What’s your favorite inclusive playground to visit? Tell us in the comments section below!

—April Hasson

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