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Boston's First Boundless Playground

Ramps are important components of the Harambee Boundless Playground, and all Boundless Playgrounds, allowing wheel chair access to the top of the play equipment.

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Boston Parks and Recreation Department, CVS Caremark and Boundless Playgrounds have made possible a new playground for inclusive play for all children at Harambee Park in Dorchester, Mass.

Construction of the playground was funded in part by a $250,000 grant from the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, along with $490,000 provided by Mayor Thomas Menino’s Capital Improvement Program.

“This project allows all kids to take part in the fun and will offer many of them new perspectives and activities that may not have been attainable until today,” said Mayor Menino.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this project to bring the first Boundless Playground to Boston,” said Eileen Howard Dunn, senior vice president of community relations for CVS Caremark.

This is Boston’s first Boundless Playground and the sixth in Massachusetts; six more are underway. According to the Boston Public Schools database, 20 percent of enrolled children receive specialized education for some type of disability. According to U.S. Census data, there are 1,097 children ages 4-14 in Boston with physical disabilities that might keep them from playing on traditionally designed playgrounds.

Safety surfacing is essential for playgrounds, but also provides a firm but smooth cushioned surface for children with mobility disabilities.

The Harambee Boundless Playground replaced a play structure installed in 1992. It was not universally accessible and in need of an update. Boundless playgrounds are designed to allow kids of varying degrees of ability to play side-by-side. At the center of Harambee Playground is an elevated gazebo, enabling children with disabilities to be up high, while also giving caregivers a view of children to encourage independent, self-directed play. The playground promotes inclusion with the addition of play panels for everyone to gather. Swings with high backs and unitary surfacing underneath make this popular playground activity easily accessible.

Since 2006, CVS Caremark All Kids Can has donated more than $2 million to the building of Boundless Playgrounds. With a grant funded by the University of Massachusetts Boston, the Institute for Community Inclusion helped to coordinate the build through its “Meet Me at the Park, LET’S PLAY” project. All Kids Can has a five-year, $25 million commitment to support children with disabilities.

There are more than 150 Boundless Playgrounds in 28 states and Canada, with dozens more under development.

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October 15, 2019, 4:56 am PDT

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