Accessible Parks — Seattle Center Wow!

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Creating parks that are accessible for all abilities has been a goal of mine for years.


In 2011 when I chaired the Parks and Seattle Center Committee I wrote:


“At the core of Seattle Parks & Recreation’s mission statement is a vow to provide all citizens with safe and welcoming opportunities to play, learn, and build community. We accomplish these objectives in many ways, whether it’s through a partnership with an organization like the Children’s Play Garden, which provides children of all abilities with a dedicated outdoor recreation space at Coleman Playfield, or via something as simple but impactful as a “yellow swing.”  See:



Merry-Go-Round fun for everyone

This past weekend, Seattle Center opened a play area called Artists at Play.  It is located on Seattle Center where nothing but asphalt and the old Magic Mouse roller coaster used to be.


The new play area was designed by local kids with the help of Northwest artists Trimpin and Judith Caldwell. They partnered with Tacoma’s Site Workshop and Highwire.  The play equipment comes from Kompan, a company dedicated to healthy development for all children all over the world.  The music-filled play area is exactly as I had hoped: it is different from every other playground in our region.


As we were negotiating for this space, I envisioned that the playground be designed as a free attraction for every child– irrespective of abilities —  a place so engaging that kids of all abilities will beg their parents and grandparents to take them to Seattle Center.  They’ve succeeded.

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Robert Nellams introduces the Climbing Tower

The design and installation was supported by Seattle Center and the Wright family, owners of the Space Needle, as part of the deal allowing the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum to be built on the campus.  Significant community outreach occurred, children’s ideas to include musical instruments, sound swings and listening stations are part of the designs, and the result is genuinely fun.


Yes, there’s 35-foot Climbing Tower which attracted hundreds of adventurous kids on its first day, a colorful Labyrinth drawing another rambunctious crowd, and my favorite – an ADA-accessible Carousel where a child in a wheel chair can join the fun.  Congratulations and thanks to Robert Nellams, the Space Needle, and the entire team.   I can hardly wait to bring my granddaughter!