Park fosters fun for all abilities
Large, brightly colored balls line the entrance to one of Williamson County’s most interesting play parks, the Play for All Abilities Park in Round Rock. The park opened its double-gated doors in 2011 to provide a “safe, fun place to play and develop new skills for children of all abilities,” according to the city of Round Rock’s web site. And the park does just that.
“This park was really well thought out,” Sofie Coronado, a special education teacher at Forbes Middle School, says. “Every aspect of the park, from the texture on the walls to the sand on the ground, has a purpose.”
During the summer, Sofie helps lead field trips to the park during a day camp for children with disabilities. The children range from first through twelfth grade and love the independence and fun they experience there.
“The beauty of this park is that people don’t look different here,” Sofie says. “In a normal park setting, an autistic child might play by themselves in the wood chips, which other kids might think is weird. Here, a special area of the park is covered in sand, which all children like to play in, so that autistic child doesn’t seem out of place. It’s more accepting.”
The 51,000 square feet of the fully outdoor and fully fenced park includes wheelchair-accessible swings, sturdy playground equipment with ramps, a stage complete with musical instruments, a nature exploration path, and a village-scape.
The village-scape features businesses such as a Wag-a-Bag and H-E-B, as well as a home, school, firehouse, and library, all lining a circular street complete with working stop lights. Children cruise around by bike, tricycle, scooter, or wheelchair. Inside the buildings, children find fun, educational visuals and props suited both for special needs and typically developing children.
A task force of more than thirty people—including many parents of special needs children and professionals from varying medical, educational, and design disciplines—designed the park.
“The park is unifying the community by bridging the gaps between typical and special needs,” Sofie says. “I come here with my own kids, and they love it. My son Joseph, who is five, never notices folks with disabilities. They’re just kids playing—that’s how he sees it.”
Play for All Abilities park located at 151 North A.W. Grimes Blvd. in Round Rock. For more information about the park, visit www.roundrocktexas.gov.