Noah's Playground accessible for all children

CHICAGO Playgrounds are a vital element in children's play experiences, but all of them are not accessible.

Research shows that there are not enough accessible playgrounds designed for children with a wide range of disabilities. Noah's Playground is different; it's for everyone, regardless of their abilities.

Located in Lawson Park at Evanston's Lighthouse Landing Center, Noah's Playground is special.

"It's really intended to serve everybody, all ages, all abilities levels, disabled, able- bodied people," said Stefanie Levine, landscape architect for the city of Evanston.

Barrier-free ramps and rubberized surfaces makes it easy for children in wheelchairs to get around Noah's Playground. Brightly colored equipment helps those with limited eyesight find their favorite activity.

Different textures are used to stimulate sensory development, which makes Noah's Playground a place where every child can play with others.

Noah Cutter, the person for whom the playground was named, passed away in December 2005 at two and one-half years old. He was born with a number of neurological anomalies. Noah's family members and their friends helped raised money to build the playground.

For Noah's mom, Julie, the playground is the local park.

"He was not able to play at a regular park. So, we thought it was a great way to pay tribute to him and also for other kids with special needs, as well as for kids without, and a way to have these kids play side by side," the mother said.

Noah's playground opened July 20, and so far, the responses have been wonderful.

"We have friends who are here. Obviously, as much as I'd like to be here everyday, I'm not, but we have, on a regular basis, any number of friends who are here. [They] will report that they have seen families with kids with special needs," Julie said.

Adam Abdelhak, 10, has muscular dystrophy. When asked about his favorite thing at Noah's Playground, he said:

"I like the swings."

The swings are adapted for children with different abilities.

Adam's mother, Karin Anderson, says it is the perfect park to make accessible.

"It's a popular, popular spot. Lighthouse Beach, and it's got the arts center. It's got the lighthouse. It's got a beach that kids can go to, and now it's got a park that kids with and without disabilities can use, and it's my favorite park in Evanston," she said.

"The site is amazing. I mean, I don't think there's a more beautiful spot in Illinois. So, it was really great opportunity to design something really special," architect Stefanie Levine said.

"I think it's a wonderful tribute to my son, and I think it's a wonderful tribute to the city of Evanston," said Julie.

Noah's Playground is open all year around. For more information, go to :

Lighthouse Beach

Central at Sheridan Road

2611 Sheridan Road

847.866.2912 and

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