Sometimes you have to create the things you wish existed. In the case of Shane’s Inspiration at Griffith Park in 1999, a movement started with a lone park unlike any others in the western half of the United States. Catherine Curry-Williams and Scott Williams lost their newborn son, Shane, to conditions associated with Spinal Muscular Atrophy after only two short weeks. Shane’s life inspired them to install a universally accessible playground in Los Angeles dedicated to Shane’s memory. It was the first universally accessible playground in the Western United States and the largest one in the nation.
Often referred to as an all-inclusive park, the universally accessible playground established in Shane’s memory sparked more than 70 additional playgrounds world-wide in the years following that were subsequently designed and developed by Shane’s Inspiration. There are over forty in Los Angeles County alone, and the all-inclusive parks are now in multiple other countries as well.
RecWest got involved with the first Shane’s Inspiration playground at Griffith Park when Jean Chappet of Boundless Playgrounds teamed up with Shane’s Inspiration and knew that Landscape Structures equipment was the best choice for this trailblazing project.
From its inception, the playground reimagined play for thousands of children and families. RecWest is a proud partner of this incredible project that has grown into a cherished community asset. Over a span of 20 years the play equipment and sensory elements have offered fantastic play features to all who visit. When it came time to update the equipment, the City of Los Angeles Park and Recreation Department wanted the park to continue to be a leading example of inclusive play. Therefore, it was decided the best choice was to replace, rather than retrofit the existing equipment.
RecWest again proudly played a role in providing equipment for the renovations. Updates were made in a way that would honor the once-groundbreaking and cherished elements of the park, yet incorporate innovative new equipment for an updated feel and enhanced inclusive experience.
The new playground was recently dedicated with a grand re-opening on March 28, 2019 and features exciting new play equipment. The new Wee-go-Round is a ground level “merry-go-round” that allows both wheelchair access and standard use. A Sway Fun provides a two-fro experience for a group of children and is equipped to accommodate those seated in wheelchairs either by simply rolling on to the event, or by transferring to the bench seating. The Zip Krooz is an exhilarating, extended track ride with a Molded Bucket seat with harness. An Oodle Swing, which is similar to a Tire Swing, has a “seating” area that is a disc that allows multiple users and can support kids in a prone position. And, of course, a crowd favorite is the Omni Spinner, a feature that allows a number of kids to sit facing each other and have a spinning experience.
From the start of this renovation project, it’s been a whirlwind of activity. Playgrounds like this typically have a 16-week construction window. Shane’s Inspiration at Griffith Park defied the odds and was completed in just 10 weeks, even with nearly two weeks of construction time lost due to rain delays. Our team at RecWest is grateful and proud to have worked on this project and successfully pushed through the numerous complexities and challenges encountered. We’re also thankful for the best subcontractors, Evergreen Environment and SpectraTurf, who assisted with this project and the can-do attitude of all involved. Thanks to their diligent efforts the park was completed on schedule.
Sometimes the only thing holding a project like this back from changing a community and touching thousands of lives for the better is finding others just as motivated to seeing initiatives through to the end. Do you see an opportunity to improve the circumstances for yourself and others through an inclusive playground? An audacious goal, kind heart, and the generosity of many can transform your idea into reality.
RecWest has supported the Shane’s Inspiration mission since its inception and have provided equipment to over 40 of Shane’s playground projects. If we can help you, don’t hesitate to give us a call and talk through your ideas.