Strengthening  Community With Inclusive Play

Play is the work of childhood. Shared play teaches children to navigate relationships, to collaborate.  By sharing play, a child learns acceptance and rejection, learns to move with courage through a diverse world. Shared play teaches children confidence, empathy, social intelligence.  

A playground is the perfect place for these opportunities.   A child who cannot take part misses them.  That means the rest of us miss an opportunity as well.

These children we call challenged are extraordinarily adept at meeting challenges.  Look at them. Courage and strength are everyday necessities.  Through them we can all learn not only empathy but persistence and courage, resilience and strength.  

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We want to give children with all abilities the opportunity to enjoy playgrounds in our county.  

Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources wants to provide recreational opportunities across all life stages and abilities and to encourage civic engagement.

Our goals dovetail beautifully: together we want to build broadly inclusive, age friendly play places as long term investments in our community.  

A recent boom in design for multigenerational living includes new thinking about the value of play and engagement across generations. Imagine play spaces designed to include physically challenged children & persons of all ages and abilities: teens, adults, the elderly.  

All-inclusive playgrounds include ramps and cool surface suitable for wheelchairs and crutches. Imagine a playground that takes into account care givers who can improve their own health while helping their loved ones.  Include play opportunities that balance an active mind and an active body, incorporating learning and culture.  Include play spaces that coax the elderly into activities that promote balance, flexibility, strength and fun.  

An all inclusive playground in Jonesboro, Arkansas.    Photo Source

An all inclusive playground in Jonesboro, Arkansas.   Photo Source


The planning, design, and building of all-inclusive playgrounds is costly.  Our local governments cannot build such places alone, so all seven Rotary Clubs of Manatee County have stepped up to make these playgrounds possible.  This public-private partnership is designed to create all inclusive play spaces incorporating multi-generational wellness equipment at three existing locations in Manatee County.

  •  G.T. Bray Park,
  • Tom Bennett Park, and
  • Buffalo Creek Park

These spaces will be the first of their kind in Manatee county where all of us can come together to move, learn, and play.