Story by Richard Essary on 06/27/2019HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- After three months of construction, families eagerly gathered at Centennial Park June 24 for the opening of a new all-abilities playground, along with paths leading to the playground and other park facilities.
Centennial Park is used for many large base events, and the new playground and associated improvements will allow special needs families more accessibility to the park.
"A true inclusive playground doesn't mean that there is special equipment in a separate area off to the side for those with special needs, but rather, a space designed as a cohesive community where play opportunities are integrated throughout," said Tammy Custer, an Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) specialist with the base's 75th Force Support Squadron.
Hill is one of 11 expedited EFMP installations in the Air Force due to its proximity to a robust medical network. As a result, there are more than 500 families with special needs and many with significant medical needs assigned to the base.
The idea to build an all-abilities playground at Hill occured in 2010. However, organizations such as the Wolf Creek Foundation and Hill AFB Spouses Club were instrumental in re-energizing the project over the past couple of years.
Altogether, $600,000 was provided by the Air Force Services Activity Child and Youth Programs for the playground's construction.
The playground is wheelchair accessible and incorporates sensory areas with a mixture of music- and texture-focused equipment for children.
Alysse Seligman, also an EFMP specialist who assisted Custer with the project, said a lot of thought went in to what features to include with playground. In addition, special needs families from the base took part in a focus session in March 2018 to discuss the playground's location and equipment.
"There's something for every child," said Selgiman. "Whatever their abilities are, there's something for everybody."