August 26, 2021

Celebrating Intergenerational Play at David Carnes Park in Memphis

Hundreds of residents in the Whitehaven community of Memphis were on hand to welcome back a beloved landmark – David Carnes Park. Renamed BlueCross Healthy Place at David Carnes Park, this nine-acre community greenspace is transformed with GameTime play and fitness amenities for people of all ages and abilities, including two playgrounds, a splash pad, Challenge Course® outdoor obstacle course and other outdoor fitness equipment, walking trails and a community pavilion. The year-long project was made possible by funding from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation.

City officials and members of the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee team cut the ribbon at the new BlueCross Healthy Place at David Carnes Park


In his remarks at the ribbon-cutting, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said, “It’s a great day for Whitehaven. This place is a total transformation of David Carnes Park. An asset like this will be invaluable to this community.”

GameTime served as designer and general contractor of the project. “One of the most satisfying things we do as a company is to help communities create fun, active and healthy places for families,” said Robert Barron, Sr. Vice President with GameTime. “BlueCross is committed to the health and wellness of Tennesseans. We are proud to be their partner in this effort.”

A Place for Everyone to Play

The playground features play areas for ages 2 to 5 and 5 to 12 with ramped access throughout the play structures, ground-level play activities like an accessible seesaw and multi-user swings, and poured rubber surfacing for easy accessibility for everyone. The play area was designed using the research found in Me2®: 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design® from Utah State University Center for Persons with Disabilities. Because of its research-based design, PlayCore designated the play area as a National Demonstration Site for Inclusive Play.

The play areas at David Carnes Park are designed for people of all abilities

Play it Cool

Adjacent to the playgrounds is an accessible splash pad to keep families cool when the weather in Memphis turns hot. Each of the sprayers and water activities is ADA accessible, and the zero-entry design of the splash pad makes it easy for everyone to join in the fun. 

The splash pad is a great place to cool off and is accessible for children and adults of all abilities

Nature-Inspired Play and Fitness

There is a beautiful stand of old-growth trees throughout the center of the park. GameTime designed walking paths through this mini forest and around the perimeter of the park. Along the lower trail are pockets of play for children to climb and explore. Throughout the upper path, there are pockets with fitness equipment like chest press, chin-up bars, etc. for adults to exercise. The combination of play and fitness pockets with the various walking paths make David Carnes Park a beautiful place for the entire family to be active together in nature. The outdoor fitness areas are designed using research from PlayCore’s scholar network and designated as a National Demonstration Site for adult fitness.

Nature-inspired play pockets are installed along the lower trail for children to explore

Among the outdoor fitness equipment is a THRIVE system for functional fitness training

Honoring the Past

During the community planning meetings, we learned from local historians the park was originally named for Memphis’ first African-American landowner - a blacksmith named David Carnes. We also learned from members of the Carnes family, who still live in Memphis, the park used to be the Carnes family homeplace. It was once filled with acres of fruit trees and the sound of the nearby blacksmith forge. To honor Mr. Carnes, GameTime created a historical marker that serves as an imaginative play area. The custom-designed blacksmith shop includes a plaque so future generations will learn about David Carnes and the Whitehaven community. 
A blacksmith-themed play area to honor the memory of David Carnes and to educate visitors about the Whitehaven Community


A Community Gathering Place

One of the most requested features from residents was a place for families to gather for picnic lunches, parties, or special events. A large covered pavilion with a dozen picnic tables is located near the David Carnes historical marker. It provides plenty of room for family gatherings and a great place to rest between play adventures.

The large covered pavilion is one of three shelters in David Carnes Park

A Little Healthy Competition

There is a Challenge Course, a timed obstacle course for children and adults, at David Carnes Park. It includes a 40-yard dash so friends and family can compete with one another. There is also a large multi-purpose field for team sports like soccer or football. The Challenge Course, 40-yard dash and athletic field all feature with professional-grade accessible synthetic turf. 

Ninja-warrior style obstacles on the Challenge Course


Family and friends race against one another and against the clock on the 40-yard dash

A project like this requires a large and passionate team. Along with GameTime, many partners made the project a reality, including Barge Design Solutions, Cunningham Recreation, and RJR Enterprises. Barge architects prepared the master plan and landscape transformation of the park. Cunningham Recreation is GameTime’s exclusive representative in Memphis. They coordinated the installation of the new play and fitness amenities and worked closely with RJR Enterprises to manage the construction process. With help from local subcontractors, landscapers, and laborers, the park came together through hard work and a commitment to creating a place unlike any other in the state of Tennessee.

Members of GameTime, PlayCore, Cunningham Recreation and RJR Enterprises celebrate with BlueCross BlueShield and the Whitehaven community at the grand opening of David Carnes Park


From the first community meetings to the grand opening ribbon-cutting, GameTime was on the ground and deeply involved to ensure the project was the perfect place for Memphis - a BlueCross Healthy Place.

Every Generation, Every Ability

Intergenerational play and recreation spaces like David Carnes Park celebrate people of all ages and abilities and provide a way for everyone to enjoy the space together. When people from different generations interact, the benefits of play are compounded through shared experiences. Every area of David Carnes Park was thoughtfully designed to encourage people of all ages and from all walks of life to interact, socialize, and play together.

If you're interested in designing a play and recreation space that encourages intergenerational play, contact the GameTime play expert in your neighborhood.