Germantown, Tennessee, a suburb of Memphis, is one of the fastest-growing communities in the United States. As more businesses and families have moved into the area, the spaces available for play have naturally diminished. The leaders of Germantown sought to provide a play environment that would bring the community together, provide children of all abilities an opportunity to play and interact with one another, and set an example for other communities across the country.
Riverdale Park was the ideal location for EveryBODY’s Treehouse to become Germantown’s new “community” playground. The park sits adjacent to Riverdale Elementary School, is near Baptist Rehabilitation Hospital and connects to residential neighborhoods. GameTime, with input from key community stakeholders and children, helped bring to life a vision of a tree-themed playground, while utilizing the design principles outlined in Me2: 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design. The playground features an inclusive Rock N Raft, interactive auditory panels, sensory-rich activities, cozy spaces, inclusive swing bays and access ramps leading to and through the playground’s tree house. Ongoing partnerships between the school, parks department, hospital, and other community groups encourage joint use by a variety of citizens and resulted in over 150 volunteers participating in the community build day. These community partnerships were also essential to the funding efforts and the future sustainability of the project.
Not only did EveryBODY’s Treehouse contribute to Germantown’s community building goals, it was also a major contributor in winning the coveted City Livability Outstanding Achievement Award in 2011. Awarded at the Annual U.S. Conference of Mayors, the award recognizes leadership in developing and implementing programs that improve the quality of life in America’s cities, focusing on the leadership, creativity, and innovation demonstrated by the mayors of those cities. EveryBODY’s Treehouse is a model demonstration of how a well-planned play environment can bring community groups together and positively affect the lives of people of all ages and abilities.