“Great Escape” becoming reality for kids with special needs

Soapbubbles-SteveEFEarly last year, the Rotary Club of College Station approached the city with an inspired project idea – an inclusive playground for children with special needs.

Since several rotary club members work in Texas A&M’s College of Architecture, they also thought the project would be ideal for their landscape architecture students. The College Station Noon Lions Club soon joined in the effort, too.

Population growth reflects need

The city’s population recently surpassed 100,000, and the special needs community continues to grow as well. The College Station Independent School District alone has 1,435 students with various disabilities, but no “play for all” parks or playgrounds exist within the seven-county region encompassed by the Brazos Valley Council of Governments.

In consultation with College Station Parks and Recreation, the landscape architecture students completed conceptual designs last fall that are the foundation for an advanced development plan. The students studied existing inclusive playgrounds in Texas, other states, England and Australia. They identified a two-acre site at Central Park as the best location due to ease of access, existing amenities, available space, available parkland dedication funds and visibility.

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