When NPR launched a national guide to accessible playgrounds two weeks ago, we knew it wasn’t perfect.
It’s not perfect because there isn’t an official, comprehensive database of playgrounds with components designed for kids with special needs available to use as a source.
So we asked you, our audience, to help us improve the Playgrounds for Everyone guide by directly adding playgrounds and describing their features — from wide ramps to play components for kids who use wheelchairs, for example.
The guide launched with nearly 1,290 locations cobbled together from a variety of sources, including the generous folks at AccessiblePlayground.net. Since launch, more than 400 locations have been added, with another 200 edited or deleted. The result is we have a more useful guide for parents searching for inclusive places for kids to play.
So, thank you!
We received submissions in 41 states and hundreds of cities, from Aiken, S.C., to Worthington, Ohio. Parks in the Buckeye State received the most updates from users, followed closely by Texas, California and Missouri. Ten playgrounds apiece were added or edited in Houston, Seattle and Washington, D.C. (where NPR has its headquarters).
We’ve also received scores of emails from our audience about the guide. Some folks had trouble adding playgrounds, so we are planning to improve that experience in a future update. Others offered thanks or shared stories about their experiences with accessible playgrounds, like this listener in Missouri:
Playgrounds sound so simple but for families like mine a day at the playground is priceless…. For just a few moments Zach gets to forget the limitations he faces and everything this disease has taken from him.
The guide remains incomplete, and we still need help improving it. You can help in several ways. If you already know of a place that has accessible play components (there’s a primer in the guide) search to see if we have the location. If not, add it.
Also, we encourage you to share the guide with friends — and maybe even your City Council member or parks department administrator — so it can keep growing.
Matt Stiles is a data editor on NPR’s news applications team, a group of reporters, designers and programmers who create interactive stories for npr.org. Follow him on Twitter: @stiles.