Community-Wide Commitment to Inclusive Play in Gillette, Wyoming
As part of our ongoing GameTime Cares™ initiative, we're sharing a series of posts called Caring Communities. We work with many great people all over the continent to build parks and playgrounds. These are the stories of communities who care.
When Janie Kuntz became the Parks Manager in Gillette, WY in 2015, one of her main goals was to create inclusive playgrounds and parks designed to include people of all ages and abilities. That was a great goal and one that we were happy to help her achieve. Together, with Taggart Castleton of Great Western Recreation, we designed four National Demonstration Sites for inclusive design!
A fifth inclusive playground is scheduled to open later this year.
Inclusive play activities like the Merry-Go-All make play fun for all at Sierra Glen Park in Gillette, Wyoming
"The purpose of these new playgrounds is to enrich play experiences and allow children to enhance their physical, cognitive, and social development," says Janie. "We are also taking into consideration the importance of providing a safe environment where children of all abilities are encouraged to socially play together."
Best Practice Design for Inclusive Playgrounds
Janie and the rest of the Gillette Parks Department take pride in the fact that the four NDS playgrounds in Gillette are the most within a single city in Wyoming. The four National Demonstration Sites in Gillette include Dalbey Memorial Park, City Park, Rotary Point Park, and the recently renovated Sierra Glen Park. Each is recognized for inclusive design and incorporates the research from Me2: 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design™.
Me2 helps communities design an outdoor play environment where physical and social inclusion can occur to the greatest extent possible.
Rendering of the new inclusive playground at Energy Capital Sports Complex
Later this year, Gillette will open its fifth NDS at the Energy Capital Sports Complex. The location has multiple baseball diamonds, a mist station, and batting cages - but it will soon feature SO much more. The new installation will add a big playground, a splash pad, and an accessible zipline, and it will be recognized as a National Demonstration Site for Inclusion and Youth Physical Activity.
The folks in Gillette hope that their dedication to providing quality, innovative play areas will serve as a blueprint that surrounding communities can emulate.
The Nation's Best Parks
Did you know that 100 million Americans do not have a park within a 10-minute walk from their home? That's almost one in three people!! Every year, nonprofit organization The Trust for Public Land (TPL) releases its Public Land ParkScore index. The index evaluates park access and quality in the 100 largest cities in the country.
Rotary Park in Gillette, Wyoming is one of five National Demonstration Site inclusive playgrounds in the community
If TPL took a look at Gillette, their researchers would discover the city holds up to some of the best cities on the list. Take a look at this comparison of Gillette and Minneapolis, which has the best park system in the country according to the 2020 ParkScore index.
|Gillette, WY Park Facts||Minneapolis Park Facts|
|Median park size: 3.96 acres||Median park size: 3.2 acres|
|Parkland as a percent of city area: 5.4%||Parkland as a percent of city area: 15%|
|Parks per 10,000 residents: 13.3||Parks per 10,000 residents: 4.1|
As you can see, Gillette's park system is among the best park systems in the entire country based on these metrics. Where Gillette really shines is the number of parks per 10,000 residents. It's more than 5 times the national average of 2.2!
Due to the number of parks in Gillette, all playground renovations or new installations require a significant amount of planning and research. Janie says she's grateful to have GameTime, Taggart, and Great Western on her side as she and the city continue to expand their park system.
"I really appreciate what the industry has been able to do to help us create our playgrounds," says Janie. "One of the reasons I wanted to work with GameTime is because of their equipment. But they also have different things to offer than other companies with their research on inclusion and design."
Partners for Inclusive Play
By bringing together the right team, the City of Gillette is able to create parks and playgrounds that meet the needs of the community today and of future generations. They rely on the research and best practices from experts in their field. With the help of GameTime and Great Western Recreation, they are able to select the right playground equipment to align with leading research.
GameTime is honored to be part of Gillette’s mission to make inclusive play a priority. If your community is inspired by their example, contact one of the inclusive play experts in your neighborhood.