Guide to Cedar Rapids Inclusive Playgrounds

Guide to Cedar Rapids Inclusive PlaygroundsA few years ago I saw a sign at Noelridge that said an inclusive playground was coming soon, and my heart was filled with joy.  Before I became a mom, I spent years working with both adults and children with disabilities.  When planning an outing for them, playgrounds rarely crossed my mind because I assumed it was not a possibility and I didn’t want to have the individuals that used wheelchairs sit and watch everyone else play from afar.

What makes a playground inclusive? Inclusive playgrounds have a hard surface (such as rubber as opposed to wood chips, dirt, sand, etc).  The structure itself will have a ramp and walkways that are wheelchair accessible.  Stand-alone play structures may be at a height accessible for individuals that use wheelchairs.  Inclusive playgrounds may also include swings that provide more security and structure than a traditional swing. There may also be various sensory activities.

We know some local mamas have been asking about inclusive playgrounds on social media recently, so we’ve compiled a shortlist of all the local inclusive playgrounds in Cedar Rapids we could find!

Noelridge Park

4900 Council Street NE

There are two playgrounds at Noelridge.  The accessible playground is the one close to the pond/shelter.

This playground was the first inclusive playground to be built in Cedar Rapids.  I love the variety of activities at Noelridge.  There are musical instruments and free-standing structures that are accessible.  My favorite part is the saucer swing which allows someone to sit or lay down on the swing!  The playground provides rampways and wide walkways making the actual main play structure wheelchair accessible.

Lowe Park

4401 Irish Drive Marion

This park is usually less busy than Noelridge whenever we go.  Similar to Noelridge, Lowe Park has ramps, wide walkways, and inclusive swings.   My favorite part of this park is the sensory slide! It’s like a slide made of rolling pins, and the kids love it. My son’s favorite part of this park is a separate play structure that is a small playhouse and a slide. There are a couple of small chairs inside the house which may be a great retreat for someone with a sensory processing disorder.

Daniels Park

940 Oakland Rd NE Cedar Rapids

The playground includes two ramp-accessible play structures and freestanding play events. The 2-5 play structure includes a stump step climber, activity play panels, ladder wall climber, and double-wide slide. The larger 5-12 play structure includes a wilder slide, mushroom stepper, vine climber, river rock climber, activity play panels, and more fun challenging play events. The play space also features an arch saucer swing, GT Jams musical items, swings, and cozy space. The area is completed with a combination of rubber tile and engineered wood fiber safety surfacing.

Wanatee Park (Formerly known as Squaw Creek Park)

1600 Banner Drive Marion

Full disclosure: I have not been to this playground.  I tried to scope it out recently with my toddler, but it was not open yet!  The sign says it opens on April 15th when the campground opens. From looking at pictures, I can tell that it has some similar features as Noelridge and Lowe parks like an inclusive swing, an “Aero Glider” with plenty of space for wheelchairs, and an accessible ramp to the main structure.

Everyone deserves to play! Inclusive playgrounds remove barriers to play for all ages with all abilities.  Even parents with varying abilities that may have had a harder time at playgrounds in the past can now play with their children as well.

If there are any other inclusive parks I missed, please leave them in the comments!

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Alex is a former cook and culinary arts graduate turned stay at home mom to her sweet heart warrior toddler, Wyatt. Alex moved to Cedar Rapids almost 10 years ago after graduating from UNI where she met her husband. While awaiting her husband to return home from his first deployment, she stays busy by having dance parties with Wyatt, taking her two dogs on long walks, experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, reading, and watching reality tv.