Through a partnership with the Play for All Foundation, Wheaton Park District and the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, a new Sensory Garden Playground is meant for kids of varying abilities.
"The ultimate goal is really inclusive play," said Western DuPage Special Recreation Association Executive Director Sandy Gbur. "So kids with and without disabilities to come out and play together."
The first phase of the park included a sound garden, raised flower beds and a playground for kids between the ages of 2 and 5. Parents said the space is perfect for kids with autism and other disabilities.
"It's fantastic that they thought of that," said mom Cheri Gossage. "Autism is a spectrum, maybe what's great for one kid might not be great for another."
"It's just nice and open. He just likes to run around in it," said dad Kevin Dillon. "Just banging music, making and playing tag. The whole thing he loves noise and running around."
Phase two of the project includes an accessible tree house, which will be funded in part by community donations. The tree house is set to open in the fall.
"We know that all families are under stress, but certainly families with children with disabilities," Gbur said. "We have an opportunity to create a magical space where they can come out and enjoy nature, as well as all the play surfaces and just have fun out here is what we were looking for."
More additions to the play area are planned for the coming years, pending funds raised from the community. More information on the project can be found at playforalldupage.org.
"You know in this world of high tech and low touch, we so need to encourage people to come out and be in nature," Gbur said.