Parks and Playgrounds for Children with Disabilities

  • Children of all ages and learning levels, including those with disabilities, enjoy the benefits of playing together.  Regardless of whether the children are in a wheelchair or have a disability such as autism, all children have a fundamental need and right to play, which is a vital part of human development. 

  • Playgrounds designed for children with disabilities are called inclusive playgrounds.  They address the needs of all children, including those who have autism, intellectual disabilities, hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and other challenges.  Children are challenged at their own developmental level.  ("Inclusive Play Design Guide," Playworld Systems, incorporate music, light and sensory panels, as well as physical activities for children of all levels and abilities.)

Discovery Playground
2426 N. Discovery Place
(in Mirabeau Point Park) 
Spokane Valley, WA
(509) 720-5401

This multi-sensory playground is an accessible place where people of all ages and abilities can play, learn and discover. 

in the Discovery Playground are designed to provide accessible and imaginative learn-and-play activities for a variety of ages and abilities.  Children must be supervised.

Location:  Near the Spokane River just north of I-90 and east of Pines Road (near the YMCA)

Mission Park
(in the City of Spokane)
1210 E. Mission
Spokane, WA 99202

A multipurpose playing field designed to provide children with intellectual and physical disabilities with a safe place to play team sports.

This 12,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility includes a barrier-free, synthetic surface that allows children with assistive devices to move freely throughout the field, as well as 30’ x 10’ dugouts capable of accommodating wheelchairs and walkers. The field also comes equipped with a backstop, bleachers and digital scoreboard.

Mission Park’s Universal Playground
(in Spokane Valley)
11023 E. Mission Ave. 
Spokane Valley, WA

Mission Park provides a “universal playground” which includes slides, swings, climbing structures, and a music area with drums and bells. The design of the playground permits children of all abilities to approach the equipment on ramps and recycled rubber surfaces that accommodate wheelchairs, walkers or crutches.  All equipment is accessible by ramp.

The park encourages disabled children to develop healthy lifestyles.  Disabled children are not immune from chronic disease and in fact, are at greater risk.  Universal parks can help improve the quality of life, as well as bestowing the full range of benefits associated with physical activity.  The layout of the playground allows children with physical impairments to play alongside of friends and siblings.

Location:  South of I-90, next to Splash Down on Mission Road, between Argonne and Pines Road.

What You Can Do

  • Find out how many schools have playgrounds designed for their children with special needs.  These students have conditions ranging from autism to Down Syndrome, along with physical limitations.  Many are working on their motor skills.  Like anyone, they need a break from sitting inside.  A playground designed for children with special needs can give these kids a place to work on their balance and hand-eye coordination, as well as a place to have fun.  (To learn more about this Eagle Scout project, see "Scout builds playground for special-needs students," by Caleb Hutton, Everett, WA Daily Herald, September 18, 2017.) 

  • Playgrounds can be designed for children with disabilities, providing all children with the experience of play that facilitates camaraderie, acceptance and overall health and wellness. Play can even help reduce stereotypes and biases that many adults and children have about the disabled.  A typically developing child who has never seen a child with a disability will just start playing with them, because they haven't been told that person is different or strange.  They just find another kid on the playground to play with and by doing so, they have learned a really important lesson. They learn tolerance at a very early age, and that every person has value. 

  • Raise awareness and advocate inclusive playgrounds for the children in Spokane. Universally accessible playgrounds are typically larger and more complex than traditional playgrounds, and they are also more expensive.  Most are funded by grants and fundraisers. The Mission Park playground cost $80,000 and took 6 years to plan, raise funds, and construct.  The project was a joint effort of the Rotoract Club of Spokane, City of Spokane Parks and Recreation, and Spokane Health District.  Contact Spokane Parks and Recreation at (509) 625-6216 for details about building additional playgrounds for disabled children.