Universal playground gives all Oak Brook children a place to play

OAK BROOK, Ill. (WLS) -- A universal playground in Oak Brook is now ready to welcome all children and families to take part in inclusive play.

The playground was built by Unlimited Play and the Oak Brook Park District Foundation.

"With our mission and our vision, we are always looking for universal recreation," said Oak Brook Park District Executive Director Laura Kosey. "We explored a national conference, what it would be like to have a universal playground. So in 2016, we partnered with Universal Play, and they helped us with the design and concept of this playground."

The universal playground removes physical and emotional barriers for kids with inclusive modification.

The park has added features like la flat spongy surface, double-wide ramps, access for walkers and wheelchairs and fencing to ease concerns for parents and allow them to keep a close eye on their kids.

"No one has to feel uncomfortable by stepping to the side so someone can get through," Kosey said. "You can go up there, and even grandparents can go up there, and feel comfortable going up there and actually interact with their grandchildren on this playground."

Parent Rebecca Kuntz said this is the play space she and her daughter Ellie have been looking for.

"With this park, she can use every single feature, whether she's in her wheelchair, whether she's in her walker, whether I put her on to the feature and she's sitting on it," Kuntz said. "Because of the universal playground, she no longer has to sit on the sideline...This is inclusion at its finest, and this park is how I want the entire world to be because this is a true representation of no limits and no boundaries."

For others, the playground even breaks down boundaries in conversation.

"This playground opens up conversations. Some people find it uncomfortable to talk about disability issues, but the more you are open, it is better and opens up these conversations," said Oak Brook resident and community activist Lara Suleiman. "Inclusion and accessible play, it makes sense because in the end, kids just want to play... and that's what kind of levels the playing field for everybody."

For more information about the playground, click here.
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