Children and adults with physical or cognitive disabilities will soon have additional options for inclusive and accessible playgrounds throughout Santa Clara County.
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors this week asked county staff to provide options for yet another one-time matching grant for the County’s All-Inclusive Playground Grant program.
The supervisors are seeking to revive the program with $10 million more in matching grants to local jurisdictions and nonprofits, including, but not limited to cities, school districts, and other agencies willing to build all-inclusive playgrounds in their communities. Up to $2 million will be available for projects in each of the County’s five supervisorial districts.
“Playgrounds are important places for recreation and community building,” said Supervisor Joe Simitian in a statement.. “They can also be therapeutic for children with disabilities, who, like all children, benefit from the developmental milestones experienced through playing. What’s more, all-inclusive playgrounds promote understanding between neighbors with and without disabilities as they’re places everyone can enjoy and play.”
Prior to 2017, the county contributed twice on an ad hoc basis to efforts by cities and community groups to build all-inclusive playgrounds in San Jose (Rotary PlayGarden) and Palo Alto (Magical Bridge). Because of how scarce these playgrounds were, the two parks quickly proved so popular that overcrowding became an issue, according to Simitian.
Beginning in 2017, “recognizing the high demand and regional significance of all-inclusive playgrounds,” the county has provided matching grants for 24 projects thus far, many of which are already open to the public, according to the supervisor..
“This action builds on our county’s demonstrated commitment to expand access to people with disabilities and aligns with the mission of our Office of Disability Affairs,” said Supervisor Cindy Chavez. “Although previous rounds of funding for the program have generated significant progress, there is still more the county can and should do.”
“The program has a proven track record of projects throughout the region,” said Simitian. “The need and enthusiasm for these parks is undeniable. County funding has been just the catalyst we hoped it would be; leveraging funds from other sources, getting folks to think in new ways about public spaces.”