Arkansas Inclusive Parks by Michele Lappin

Having 3 kids with various disabilities can make things complicated for our family when finding fun and inexpensive things to do. One go-to is playgrounds. And while regular playgrounds might be fine, we find that inclusive playgrounds are the best and most enjoyable for our kids.

What is an inclusive playground? An inclusive playground goes beyond the minimum accommodations to create play experiences that meet a variety of needs, interests, and disabilities. This allows kids with and without disabilities to play together.

In this blog, I will review 5 inclusive playgrounds that our family frequently visits including: Ritchie Road Park in Cabot, Tyndall Park in Benton, Citizens Park in Bentonville, One Heart Playground in Little Rock, and Matthews Park in Greenbrier. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and do not represent the opinions of TCFEF or any others.

Also, check out the new inclusive playgrounds in MacArthur Park in Little Rock, Two Rivers Park in Little Rock, Martin Luther King Jr Park in Fort Smith, John Bell Jr Park in Fort Smith, Mount Hebron Park in Rogers. Coming soon is another inclusive playground called Play and Splash in Maumelle!

More park reviews to come soon!!

Ritchie Road Park in Cabot

This park is smaller but it is gated, which is a plus for those of us with disabled kids who elope. The park has an inclusive merry go round, 2 full support swings, ramps going onto the playground equipment, sway boat, individual spinner seat, 1 flower spinner seat, and steam roller slide. It also has hands on activities like games and drums. There are 2 red Buddy benches. There is a pavilion right next to the inclusive park. This park has padded rubber and cement for the ground covering. The bathrooms are across the parking lot and unfortunately are not very disability friendly. I would give this inclusive park a 7/10.

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Citizens Park in Bentonville

This playground is also gated and about medium sized. Unlike the two previous parks that have rubber and cement, this park has some kind of Astro turf. The park has a full support seat zipline, full support swings, ramps going onto the playground equipment, steam roller slide, bridge, 2 spinner chairs, and tons of hands-on activities. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an inclusive merry go round. There were a couple benches, canopies over some of the equipment, but not bathrooms or pavilions close to the playground. The playground is near the Bentonville Recreation Center, multi-purpose fields, tennis courts, etc. I would give this inclusive park an 8/10.

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One Heart Playground in Little Rock

This inclusive playground is gated and medium sized. It also has padded rubber and cement for the ground covering. It has 2 inclusive merry go rounds, one with supported seats and one where a wheelchair can be rolled onto it. There are ramps to the playground equipment, a sway boat, full support swing, hands-on activities, AND a wheelchair swing. There are benches outside the playground. The bathroom is not close. This playground is near Funland Amusement Park and multiple playgrounds and other park amenities in Burns Park. I would give this playground an 8/10.

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Matthews Park in Greenbrier

This inclusive playground is large but unfortunately not gated. It has padded rubber and cement for the ground covering. It has full support swings, swings for both baby and parent to sit on, inclusive merry go round with wheelchair access, wheelchair swing, ramps to the playground equipment, and tons of hands-on activities. There are some canopies over the playground equipment. It does have a splash pad in the playground. There are a skate park and pond near the playground. There are multiple pavilions, including 1 large pavilion and multiple small pavilions and bathrooms in the park. I would give this park an 8/10.

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Tyndall Park in Benton

This playground is hands down, one of the best parks we have been to so far. It is almost like a mini amusement park! It is larger and gated. The park has an inclusive see-saw, full support seat zipline, saucer swing, full support swing, inclusive merry go round, steam roller slide, ramps going onto the playground equipment, tons of hands-on activities, etc. There is a pavilion and bathroom very close to the playground. There are numerous benches for sitting. The park has padded rubber and cement for the ground covering. The playground is surrounded by other park amenities including a skate park, tennis courts, basketball, splash pad, etc. I would give this inclusive park a 10/10.

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