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Inclusive playground equipment at Meridian's Tully Park

communication board.jpg
Posted at 4:14 PM, Jun 28, 2024

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Improving local places of play, Meridian Parks and Recreation creates an inclusive playground, Tully Park, with a communication board, wheelchair access, and a variety of swings.

The upgrades to the park were celebrated at an opening event on Friday, June 28.
(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)
Improving local places of play, Meridian Parks and Recreation creates an inclusive playground Tully Park, with a communication board, wheelchair access and a variety of swings.

"I have a nonverbal, autistic grandson, and I saw that they were using a communication board like this on an iPad and using it to communicate when he couldn’t express himself verbally. I started to hear about the opportunities to use something like this in a park setting," said Meridian Parks and Recreation Director Steve Siddoway.

He is making local parks more inclusive places to play, for kids like his grandson.

“Kids that are autistic and nonverbal are able to come up and express themselves with the images on the board," said Siddoway.

The board is just one way that kids who don’t experience nonverbal tendencies to learn how to better interact with peers… for example, “You know, ‘how are you feeling’ and you know ‘I’m happy’ ‘I’m sad’ ‘I’m tired.’ You know. ‘Something is wrong.’ ‘Stop something’” said Siddoway.

“When you go on the spinner [playground] too much.. ‘I feel sick,’” said Triepke.

“Yes, haha, you might want to slow down,” said Siddoway.

Also being celebrated at Friday’s ribbon-cutting event, some new wheelchair-accessible features.

“A wheelchair can come up through this, around and into this rocker here… and this rocker you can wheel straight in. Do you care if I rock you guys a little bit, ready? and then rocks like this…” said Siddoway as he rocked the wheelchair playground feature.

The old Tully Park playground set will soon have a second life as a group called ‘Kids Around the World’ will transport it to a developing country.

“We have done this twice before. Once with Chateau Park’s old play equipment and with Bear Creek Park’s old play equipment. And both of those play structures now reside in different towns in Nicaragua.

On an accessibility level, local mom Amber Kemp agrees these new features are important as a communication board has played a crucial role in her child's development.

“My kiddos specifically didn’t necessarily not have language, but it was still such an amazing support because it gave him the ability to express his wants and needs and just feel like he could communicate well with others,” said Kemp.

Meridian Resident and mother, Amber Kemp shares her child's experience with a communication board

“The new equipment is really fun, but just knowing that it’s for all abilities that there’s inclusivity here, and knowing that yeah that this is a really cool place to build community. I think we will find ourselves here more often,” said Kemp.