The first-ever, all-accessible playground in Jefferson County is officially open to all.
Coordinators, community members, and kids made their way to Chimacum’s HJ Carroll Park Friday afternoon to celebrate the grand opening of the Jefferson Universal Movement Playground — or JUMP! — after a six-year process. Fundraising, grant writing, construction, and other obstacles were all overcome, bringing the project to the finish line.
“These six years have been a huge journey for us at JUMP!” said Sarah McNulty, the organization’s vice president, before a crowd of 150-plus supporters at the grand opening.
“But what a gift it has been to see this project through. And we thank everyone who has come together to make this playground happen,” she added.
A collection of JUMP! board members, Jefferson County representatives, and State Rep. Steve Tharinger delivered speeches at the grand opening, though the speakers kept it short and sweet for the excitable, antsy kids ready to step foot in the all-accessible playground for the very first time.
PLAYGROUND FOR ALL
“So many families impacted by disability have a difficult time finding activities and places that can safely include all of their children,” said Amie Haskins, a board member and disability advocate. “For these families, connection with others and support from the community can really make all the difference, and that is where this playground comes in.”
Speaking on the difficulty of finding a safe and accessible play-place for her son — who has Angelman syndrome — Haskins lauded the playground as a new home for recreation for kids of all abilities.
“I hope this place can be a symbol of celebrating the beauty of our differences and abilities,” Haskins said.
The play space will also have accessible surfacing to give parents, friends, or other caregivers who use assistive mobility devices such as walkers, canes, and wheelchairs a place to roll or safely walk to and watch children play.
“JUMP! promises so much joy, and is only possible because of the love and hard work of so many people from the community,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Heidi Eisenhour.
“Imagine all of the laughter and joy you’ve just enabled. This is magic, and I want to be first on the merry-go-round,” Eisenhour added.
“That was totally inspirational for me … this is a big deal,” Tharinger added.
LIKE NO OTHER
“We’re so lucky to live in a community with so many artists and builders, and it really has been a total community effort to be here,” Grossman said.
Perhaps the most meritorious aspect of the play place is the JUMP! board’s collaboration with a handful of local artists and artisans to deliver truly unique structures and designs that are emblematic of the local ecosystem and art-oriented community.
“You can’t order a playground like this you see behind us from a catalogue. It is completely unique,” said Matt Tyler, manager of Jefferson County Parks and Recreation.
Sculpter Gunter Reimnitz of Abraxas Crow designed the JUMP! logo and front gate — adorned with metallic starfish, seaweed, and other nautical-themed elements. Chris Axling of Magical Playhouses created a one-of-a-kind playhouse out of driftwood for the project. Artist Rebecca Welti fashioned one of the most eye-catching elements of the playground with a massive, six-fingered climbing structure modeled after the larva of a sea urchin and sea star, along with setting up a variety of plankton tiles across the playground.
“Rebecca [Welti] volunteered hundreds of hours, she worked with children from every school in our area to make the plankton tiles and install them throughout the playground,” Tyler said of the local artist’s efforts. “Rebecca also designed the world’s only 10-foot-tall sea star climbing structure, which is sure to stimulate curiosity for children for generations.”
The playground cost around $1.4 million to build, with the funding coming from generous donations, grants, local municipalities, bake sales, and a wide range of other fundraisers.
HEART OF JEFFERSON COUNTY
“When the JUMP! board was writing grants or making presentations to build support for our playground, we often described HJ Carroll as the heart of Jefferson County,” McNulty said.
“But really, this park could be our heart, beating with the rhythm of our collective values as a community,” she said.
Beyond the symbolic implications of the park representing local community values, the recreational area was strategically selected by JUMP! volunteers due to its central location in east Jefferson County.
Prior to the new playground, parents seeking accessible play spaces would have to drive hours outside Jefferson County for a suitable location. Now, it’s just a short drive away.
“The JUMP! Playground has etched a permanent place in my heart, and I know I’m not the only one,” said Anna McEnery, a JUMP! board member and developmental disabilities and behavioral health coordinator for Jefferson County. “I believe this playground can raise our community, raise us to be practiced in advocating for the unheard, raise us to not turn away from our fear of being seen as different, raise us to support others.”
As the speeches wrapped up, a tidal wave of cheerful children flooded the newly-opened playground, embarking on a new chapter for all-accessible play facilities for the youth of Jefferson County.
To learn more about JUMP!, go to jumpplayground.org.
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