Tampa Parks and Recreation is set to officially open another fully inclusive and sensory-friendly playground, funded by the City of Tampa and approved by the Tampa City Council.
The New Tampa All Abilities Playground, located at 17302 Commerce Park Blvd in Tampa, is a state-of-the-art,10,000+ square-foot playground that is designed for children with a wide range of physical, cognitive, sensory, and neuro-diverse abilities. It also features multiple play pieces that are wheelchair accessible.
"This playground has truly set a new standard for inclusivity and accessibility that we continue to strive towards throughout our entire Tampa Parks system," said Sherisha Hills, Director of Tampa Parks & Recreation. "Our goal was to create a safe and engaging play space where all children of all abilities can create fun and interactive playground memories."
The New Tampa All Abilities Playground also includes a sensory area and interactive art installation geared towards children with autism or other disabilities. A communication board is also available for those who do not verbally communicate as well.
"As a sibling to a man with intellectual disabilities, I know how important parks like this are," said Councilman Luis Viera. "Parks like this are more than brick or pavement. They represent inclusion, understanding, and empathy with people like my mother and late father, who raise and care for persons with special needs. This park, the first of its kind here in Tampa fully funded by our City, is a gesture of solidarity to every family out there raising a child with special needs. It is about the City of Tampa taking 20 steps forward so that these families can leap forward 20,000 steps."
Custom shade structures were installed to provide more comfort for the children and their families. Additionally, kids will enjoy the security of a rubber play surface for any trips they might have during play.
"Inclusive playgrounds welcome children of all ages and abilities to play, learn, and grow together,” Mayor Jane Castor said. “This incredible space provides a variety of developmental options for kids to choose from. I’m so proud of the Parks and Recreation team for continuing to build upon an inclusive parks system that can serve as an example for other departments nationwide.”
The playground even boasts a new, interactive art mural by Artist Pep Rally, titled “Wild Florida Parade.”
This new public art installation celebrates the natural wonders of Florida through a vibrant, playful, and tactile experience. The color palette and stylized composition of plants and animals add an unexpected twist for all who visit the park.
To ensure that the installation is accessible for all, Pep Rally developed an experience for low to no-vision children - each layer of the art has carved grooves that can be observed through touch and is designed at a height that is wheelchair accessible.
New Tampa All Abilities Playground Public Art
17302 Commerce Park Blvd, Tampa, FL
Artist: Pep Rally
Title: Wild Florida Parade
Commission completion date: 2022
Commissioning Agency: City of Tampa, Arts & Cultural Affairs
Medium: DayGlo acrylic paint, PVC sheets