This May, the Kansas City Zoo is set to become the first zoo in the U.S. with an “all inclusive play area” designed specifically for kids with special needs. In conjunction with the local children’s charity Variety, the Zoo will open a new playground “which provides adaptive equipment and opportunities to play and learn for kids with developmental disabilities.”
This will include:
- A zip line capable of carrying a child and a caregiver at the same time.
- An “elephant swing” to be used by many kids at the same time.
- A “low sensory quiet zone” for kids.
The play area will be made with “safe but solid” grounding similar to the ball fields at the Omaha AllPlay facility. It will be tucked in next to the Africa section between the painted dog and hippo exhibits (near the boat landing dock).
The zoo will also check out sensory kits to kids at the entrance, and there will be an adaptive family golf cart available to help transport families to different areas of the zoo.
“Play time is the key time for children to learn to interact, to resolve conflict and realize we’re all different,” Variety KC Executive Director Deborah Wiebrecht said on the their website. “Because the majority of playgrounds and play areas are not inclusive, some children don’t often meet their peers with special needs. Inclusive opportunities like the zoo’s will allow peers to meet and play together, overcoming obstacles and differences together. This is how a caring community is created. This is how to raise open-minded, empathetic and cooperative adults.”