Disability inclusive park to open Friday

A park designed to include children with varying disabilities will open next to the Patsy Hooks Dog Park. 

Long requested by Weatherford parents and teachers, a new playground designed to include children with disabilities is ready for use this week. 

The city has scheduled a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Heritage Park playground, located near the Patsy Hooks Dog Park at 379 Jack Borden Way, on Friday at 4:30 p.m. 

In answer to advocates who have complained that traditional parks often leave disabled children unable to play with friends, the all-inclusive playground is designed to serve children who may be autistic, hearing impaired or have spina bifida or cerebral palsy and other disabilities, as well as children without disabilities.

“Each park in Weatherford meets the criteria for accessibility according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),” Director of Parks, Recreation and Special Events Shannon Goodman said. “However, ‘accessible’ does not always mean ‘inclusive.’ This facility will provide an opportunity for everyone to enjoy the park together and increase ‘playability’ for people of diverse abilities.”

It’s the first of its kind in Weatherford and one of just a few in the larger Metroplex. 

The play ground is shaded and was designed “provide engaging sensory-rich features for children of all ages,” according to the city. 

Its wheelchair accessible features include rubber surfacing on the ground instead of wood chips, a ramp to the play set, and an 80-foot zip line. 

“The all-inclusive playground meets the vision for the Heritage Park Development Plan that was established in 2009 by City Council,” said Mayor Craig Swancy. “After numerous meetings and hearing input from the community, the City knew that there was a need for a playground facility that enabled diverse opportunities for everyone. It is very exciting to know that many children will be able to enjoy this playground for many years.”

In addition to a presentation about the park and a statement from Swancy, the ribbon cutting will include free ice cream for the first 100 attendees and pet adoptions by the Weatherford Parker County Animal Shelter. 

General parking will be located in the south lot at Heritage Park with golf carts shuttles transporting attendees to the playground. The parking area at the Patsy Hooks Dog Park/playground area will be used for handicap parking only. 

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