Three sophomore engineering students, Camden Schweitzer, Anna Weidman, and Annika Yanoshak, have designed an innovative all-inclusive and accessible playground to aid in the joy of those with disabilities. The students were challenged with creating and presenting an innovative engineering project to present at SkillsUSA. Tri-County Special Education teacher, Bill LaPlant, has a daughter Penny who uses a wheelchair daily due to her disability. Mr. LaPlant discussed the everyday complications that Penny experiences including the lack of access to a playground. The students initially started the project by contacting local families who had children who use wheelchairs. Then they used their feedback and advice to construct an interactive scale model of the fully wheelchair accessible playground online 3D model using SolidWorks. The students have decided to call the playground, Penny’s Park.
The playground design includes three accessible ramps. One that leads from the parking lot to the ground, another leads from one structure to the parking lot, and the last leads from the other structure to the ground. There are light switches, wind chimes, and a pirate wheel to offer interactive play within the structure that is not too stimulating. An accessible swing can be utilized by a small ramp that extends down to the ground and then acts as a door. There will also be an accessible bathroom on site.
The students have researched where the play structure could best be utilized by the children. They chose the Wrentham Development Center to implement their design. They estimate the cost of building the playground structure will be approximately $13,000. It is their hope to raise the funds to be able to make Penny’s Park into a reality for the whole community to enjoy.