Ryan, 6, rides a wheelchair in the Trinity United Methodist Church playground Sunday afternoon. Though he was not disabled himself, the wheelchair allowed Ryan to test the park’s accessibility for wheelchair users.

Kristie Manus / Alligator

The Gainesville community gathered Sunday afternoon for the dedication ceremony of a playground at Trinity United Methodist Church that is accessible to children with and without disabilities.

The playground, at 4000 NW 53rd Ave., meets the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, with things like mulch, wheelchair accessible areas and AstroTurf, said Kelly Ping, spokeswoman for Trinity United Methodist Church.

“We don’t want to leave anyone out,” said the Rev. Esther Rodriguez, associate pastor for the church.

The playground is landscaped to be wheelchair-accessible, with engineered mulch that meets ADA standards, and it also has a ramp that allows wheelchairs to move up into the play area.

It also offers equipment such as a gondola where people in wheelchairs travel up a ramp and swing; ground-level features like a spinning ship’s wheel; and instruments around the park like bongo drums.

The upper playground area also has AstroTurf for beginning walkers, so it does not hurt if they fall, Ping said.

The concept for the playground began when Jenn Garrett, a member of the building committee at Trinity United Methodist Church and a parent whose children also go to the church, realized there were no playgrounds in North Central Florida accessible to people of all ability levels. 

“We needed to come up with equipment that would make all children of all abilities feel included, and that’s why the playground is really an inclusive playground in addition to being accessible,” Garrett said.

The playground took about three years to design and build, and it was completely funded by donors, Garrett said. The playground is open to the public during the day.

“It’s just wonderful to have this safe and open place where my kids can go and feel comfortable around other children that may or may not have a disability and be able to play with them,” Garrett said.

[A version of this story ran on page 4 on 2/9/2015 under the headline “Gainesville’s first playground for children with disabilities unveiled"]