Interactive and Inclusive Playgrounds Benefit Everyone


14 June 2019, Marc Woodard

Tigard Parks and Recreation hosted its first Camas Festival on 27 April 2019 within Dirksen Nature Park. The major attraction for many was the camas flowers in bloom [April-May]. A big attraction was the newly constructed shelter and interactive playground for children. It has natural climbing features and chain sawed sections of repurposed logs, with storybook-like carvings masterfully crafted on them. City planners and project managers did a wonderful job on this park project.

Gizzy the pom viewed camas flowers up close from the observation deck [next image].
Ageless MirrorAthlete also covers city recreation investment and benefits within aging in place communities

Those who attended had the opportunity to visit multiple information stations. One of which overlooked the oak savanna field with camas flowers. There you learned from forest management experts about the savanna restoration project, native plants and camas bulb as a sustainable food source used by the Atfalati branch of the Kalapuya tribe of Tualatin Valley. Other expertise was provided by City Parks and Recreation volunteers and Tualatin River Keepers, including city councilors and staff who shared other parks/trail projects.

Once grouping of chain sawed log carvings

The big take away for me was the newly constructed interactive playground for children and how this whole area could become more inclusively accessible for the mobility challenged population. For example a parking area off Tigard Street with wheelchair access to the oak savanna viewing deck and play-shelter area and possibly the remotely located outdoor fitness center and sensitive wet lands viewing platform would be of great public service.

Excellent wheelchair surface within shelter and playground area.

What have experts discovered about interactive playgrounds for children? We’ve found that in nature-based play areas, where you provide things like rocks, logs, sand and water, kids are able to engage their minds as well as their muscles, said Rod Wojtanik, parks planning manager at Metro. They collaborate more and they spend more time in the play area. It also brings the parents or caregivers down into the play area with them, which has been fun to see [2019 Holmes. Metro News, Oxbow Regional Park, Gresham, OR]. When children interact within nature, they ask more questions in search of answers, get more exercise and become more developmentally connected with the physical environment versus the digital world.

“provide things like rocks, logs, sand and water, kids are able to engage their minds as well as their muscles…

Public investments in recreation without walls is taking cities by storm and without any sign of slowing down. Why? There are economic, social and political and well-being multiplier benefits at a fraction of taxpayer cost compared to indoor facilities. Now schools, parks, trails, community organizations, military units, businesses and individuals can benefit from installing an effective and substantial outdoor exercise and fitness area. The Outdoor Fitness concept assures that everyone can make important fitness gains in an enjoyable outdoor exercise environment. []

Dirksen Park wetlands view deck – close to oak savanna field and shelter playground area.

Inclusive public-use play areas can be affordably fitted with state-of-the art children and adult fitness station modules that welcome the mobility challenged.

Dirksen Park Outdoor Fitness Center

When inclusive playgrounds are centered near downtown and within public plaza space areas, they attract consumer-fitness enthusiasts of all ages and abilities which is good for commerce. City projects like this are good medicine for children, families, active adults and the mobility challenged.

“Communities that play together stay together while reaping the fit healthy benefits.”

A win-win for everyone!

Good health to you and your family. Marc Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET., is a former member of the Tigard City Council. He is a strong proponent of City involvement in providing recreational opportunities for its residents. 2019 Copy right. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc.,

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