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City of Austin gets moving on first-ever all abilities playground

Planning for the new accessible and inclusive playground, to be located in the Onion Creek area, will begin in January.

A drone footage photo of an expansive field at Onion Creek Metropolitan Park, with trees in the background and curved sidewalks bordering one edge.

This site at Onion Creek Metropolitan Park will be home to the City of Austin’s first all abilities playground.

Photo via the City of Austin

The city’s first ever all abilities playground will soon become a reality, with work on the project scheduled to begin next year.

The effort is nearly a decade old, with the goal identified in the 2015 Onion Creek Metropolitan Park Master Plan. The city plans to get moving on the southeast Austin park starting next month — here’s what to know.

What is an all abilities playground?

True to its title, an all abilities playground is a space built for children and guardians of all ages, abilities, and needs.

This often involves accessible design, but a successful inclusive playground also includes varying levels of challenges for kiddos to develop physically, socially, and cognitively while maintaining safety.

For example, the Play For All Park in Round Rock includes:

  • A sensory pod-sandbox
  • A ramp-accessible playscape
  • A swing set with different types of swings, including a wheelchair swing and companion swing
A ramp bordered with brightly colored handrails leads into a playscape with slides and other interactive elements; a sign above reads "Dennis' Dream"

Round Rock’s Play For All Park is an example of an all abilities playground, complete with a wheelchair-accessible playscape.

Photo by Teddy Hoffman/City of Round Rock

What will this playground be like?

Although the design phase hasn’t yet begun, this new playground is expected to include a play area, restrooms, picnic pavilions, and trail connections.

The site will be built with sustainability in mind, and be categorized into four themes: natural, passive, active, and cultural.

The playground will be the first of its kind in the City of Austin, although a similar playground opened last month in Del Valle. This spring, the city identified the Springwood Neighborhood Park as another potential future all abilities playground site.

How can I get involved?

Join the project’s virtual public feedback meeting on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m. or fill out an interest form to attend a group discussion.

Design plans for the park are expected to be released by June.