The Magical Bridge Playground at Claudelands Park, built in collaboration with Hamilton City Council and Magical Bridge Trust, has been in the works since 2021 and was designed to include everyone, no matter their age or ability.
The trust was started by passionate members of the disability community who were on a mission to create a fully inclusive playground that removed barriers for individuals and families with physical or neurological disabilities.
Trust chairman Peter van Vroonhoven said the new playground was giving everyone the chance to play.
“One in four New Zealanders have a disability of some kind, but only 10 per cent of those have visible disabilities. We wanted to create a playground that includes everyone – wheelchair users, those with hearing and vision impairments, the neuro-diverse community, and more.”
The opening of the playground on Friday marked the completion of the first stage of two.
The 8000sq m fenced playground includes 3500sq m of themed zones, including a slide zone, balance and bounce zone, swing zone and spin zone, as well as retreat huts, waterplay, a playhouse and stage. The design also includes shade, seating and drinking fountains.
Fundraising for stage two of the playground was now under way, which will add more sensory features, accessible toilets, a more inclusive flying fox, fitness equipment, a sensory climbing dome and New Zealand’s first Musical Laser Harp.
Mayor Paula Southgate said the project was a testament to what could be achieved when “we partner with the communities we serve”.
She was “immensely proud” that Hamilton was now home to “the first of its kind”, fully inclusive playground in New Zealand.
“Hamilton is living up to its reputation as city of the future, establishing the nation’s initial Changing Places bathroom, which provides adequate public changing rooms for people with disabilities, and now the first fully inclusive playground in New Zealand.
“I hope this sets the benchmark for all new playgrounds throughout New Zealand.”
Stage one of the playground was funded through a combination of community grants, sponsorship and in-kind donations as well as $1.4 million from the council’s existing renewals budget.
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