Slideshow: At Salmon Bay School, a playground everyone can play on
All photos by Zachariah Bryan
If there's one thing we can be certain of in this world, it's this: Kids love the new playground at the Salmon Bay Elementary and Middle School.
On Friday, Jan. 18, at about 8:30 a.m., kids, parents and community members gathered in the auditorium of Salmon Bay Elementary School to celebrate the completion of the new playground.
Not just any playground, though, the new one built at Salmon Bay is especially designed to accommodate children of all types, including those with autism spectrum disorder. The playground, which was completed over the summer, replaces in older one that had been torn down and cemented over when it was found to be falling apart as children played on it.
"All of you, all of your parents, all the folks who live in the neighborhood, everyone got together and made this playground happen," Department of Neighborhoods Director Bernie Matsuno said.
The event opened up with the kids being led in a sing-a-long of several songs. Ecstatic, City Council President Sally Clark took a picture and posted on Facebook, "Starting the day with Yellow Submarine - how great is that?!"
Sally Clark spoke at the event. Speaking directly to the kids and referring to the playground, she said, "That's a very special thing that you can do in your community when you get older, is take that idea and make something happen."
When she was being given the tour of the playground, she was genuinely positive about the project and what it did for children. "This is a really good thing you've done here," she said to organizers of the project.
King County Councilmember Larry Phillips also spoke. "One of the things we do at King County is make playgrounds better for you and better for kids throughout King County."
Behind the speakers could be seen children holding up wonderfully cute handmade thank you signs.
Outside, Landscape Architect Johnson explained how the playground was designed for children of all types, including those with autism spectrum disorder. By making it more spread out, children wouldn't be pressured or intimidated by the chaos that can happen from a large cluster of kids all in the same spot.
"The idea was to separate it so everyone's not all clumped together," she said. "Here there's a lot more opportunity to hang out on the edges.
Everything was designed: from the colors (a calm palette consisting mostly of blues and greens) to the equipment, which was selected with some physical needs kept in mind. The playground also incorporates a lot of natural material, including rock faces -- which kids were constantly playing and running on -- and some small trees.
"Whenever I walk around I get a little tearful," said Robin Lofstrom, a parent of three Salmon Bay students who helped lead the charge on creating and completing the playground. "Because we are so unbelievably lucky to have this type of Department of Neighborhoods and this kind of county."
She explained that where she came from, Cleveland, this kind of community-supported project would have never happened.
She said that she worked on the project in part for her son.
"I have a son who couldn't play on typical playgrounds. He would sit on the bench and watch other kids play," she said. "And he was left out."
"Everyone has a chance to play here, even my kid," she said. And then, pointing to a pair running by, "Even those kids.
And indeed, all the kids soaked in every moment playing on the new playground. Running, skipping, swinging on monkey bars, sliding down slides, doing that thing kids do.
Really, just look at how much fun they're having:
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