Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Let the children play — and James City County has inclusive parks for it

A child’s job is to play, according to the National Institutes of Health.

And the folks at James City County Parks and Recreation couldn’t agree more.

Studies have repeatedly shown the importance of play, said John Carnifax , director of JCC Parks and Recreation. Play helps children to develop physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally.

As such, the JCC parks system offers a variety of public environments where children can play, including nine park sites equipped with 11 playgrounds, and nine elementary school sites with 26 playgrounds.

But that’s not all.

“At JCC [we] ensure that all of our parks, playgrounds, and facilities are accessible for all individuals,” said Tracy Newsom , JCC’s inclusion coordinator.  “Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of individuals who receive special accommodations due to a disability. We currently serve over 400 citizens with special accommodations in our facilities, youth programs, special interest classes, sports classes and partnered programs.”

On some playgrounds “we’ve included musical elements that will help calm someone with a sensory processing disorder, and elements to engage body movement for an individual with a mobility disability, as well as tactile elements to help engage touch and sensory [stimulation] for an individual with autism,” Newsom added.

In addition, JCC’s My Place playground at 5301 Longhill Road in Williamsburg, is an all-inclusive play environment built using universal design principles.

My Place includes all the features of a traditional playground, such as swings and climbing equipment, but was constructed to allow those with disabilities to access every aspect of the facility.

“Children with mobility issues need safe approach routes on the playground. MyPlace fits this criteria with an accessible route from the playground perimeter to all [of the] accessible play structures,” Parks & Recreation Director John Carnifax said. And “at the time it was constructed it was the first rubber surface playground in the area.”

My Place is a privately funded project of the Leadership Triangle class of 2009, and continued fundraising efforts support the ongoing maintenance and repair of the playground.

Like most playgrounds, MyPlace is open daily from sunrise to sunset and is free to the public.

For more information on the facilities available through the James City County Department of Parks and Recreation, click here.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzohttp://wydaily.com
John Mangalonzo (john@localdailymedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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