Ryan Gray Playground for All Children

November 21, 2016

Hillcrest Elementary, Lawrence, KS
Product Lines: Berliner, Burke, Duraplay poured-in-place surfacing, and Playground Grass by ForeverLawn

Opened originally in 1993, the Ryan Gray Playground for All Children is a fully accessible community playground located at Hillcrest Elementary in Lawrence, KS. It was built in honor of Ryan Gray, a former Hillcrest student with disabilities who passed away in 1990.

The Ryan Gray Playground has the honor of also being the first fully accessible playground in the state of Kansas. However, after 20+ years, the playground needed to be rejuvenated and the desire was to increase accessibility and provide more play value and kid friendly exercise.

On October 1, 2016, Lawrence and the surrounding communities celebrated the re-opening of this amazing playground.

Want to know more? Contact Julie Scott.

Out with the Old, In with the New Playground

More than 20 years old, the previous playground surface, surrounding landscaping and most of the specialized playground equipment was replaced. That meant out with the old slides and swings and in with more up-to-date play equipment with even more ways for children of all abilities to play together.

Changes to the playground included a circular design and more engaging play structures enabling children to play together. Signs and panels include directions in Braille.

ryan-gray-playground_entranceBesides the sign at the entrance to the park featuring Ryan’s picture, the playground incorporates his love of the Jayhawks basketball team and celebrates the Jayhawks’ 1988 NCAA Championship. The arches leading to the playground represent each of the teams the Jayhawks beat on their way to the championship and the new playground poured-in-place surface features a huge basketball.

In addition, the playground includes:

  • The almost 15 foot tall Jupiter rope structure by Berliner, offering true 3-dimensional rope play, where children can climb and swing, up and down and side-to-side. Children in wheelchairs can go under the net structure look up and talk to the kids above them, enabling those in wheelchairs to be closer to the other children, weave in and out, chase and be part of the action.
  • The Jupiter connects via a bridge to a traditional post and deck platform structure from Burke.
  • A music area including a marimba, tuned drums and contrabass chimes.
  • A Cloud 9 Saucer swing, an accessible swing that allows several children at one time to “fly on the cloud.” The swing allows children with special needs to enjoy the swinging movement with other children or their caregiver.
  • Two comet spinners, enabling children to use their strength, balance and coordination to move the spinner.
  • Playground Grass by ForeverLawn under the swings.
  • Picnic tables and benches, including concrete pads.

Ryan Gray Playground for All Children at Hillcrest Elementary


Photo Credit: work-in-progress photos courtesy of Ryan Gray Playground for All Children Facebook page.

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