Inclusive playground coming to Woodstock this summer

Woodstock plans to build an inclusive playground called Nature’s Way for ages eight to 80


City of Woodstock

Designs for the Nature’s Way playground posted on the City of Woodstock’s Recreation Department’s website include areas for all people “ages eight to 80.”

Olivia Smith, Contributing Writer

The city of Woodstock has recently implemented a 1.3 million dollar Nature’s Way”playground project for ages “eight to 80.” This would serve as the community’s second inclusive playground, which would encourage kids of all abilities to connect and play with one another. 

Investing in an inclusive playground is a strategic point of difference for any community,” Woodstock’s Recreation Department website states. “Playgrounds that truly welcome everyone attract new residents, businesses and visitors to the area.”

Accessible playgrounds are designed, sensory-rich environments that are meant to encourage and allow children of all ages to develop physically, emotionally and socially. Nature’s way intends to provide a well-designed space that addresses all levels of ability.

Many Woodstock residents feel that the community’s play spaces should be safe and accessible to all community members. Shannon Mahlebashian, a teacher at MCHS and a Woodstock resident, says, The elderly and people with physical disabilities pay taxes just like the rest of us. [Therefore,] they deserve to be able to use all of the community spaces just like everyone else.”

The equipment is made to be enjoyed by children and adults alike, offering experiences that have not previously been used in recreation. In addition to the inclusive play area, the complex includes low-impact exercise equipment for older adults. 

“Some of the amenities that would make the playground inclusive or more accessible are a rubber mobility surface that would benefit users with walking issues, installations designed to look like plants or vehicles, and low impact exercise equipment,” Aaron Dorman, an editor and writer from Shaw Local, wrote about the playground. “[There’s also] zero-depth circle spinners for users with wheelchairs and musical equipment, etc.”

Citizens believe Woodstock is going to great lengths to include everyone, and that the playground will be a step in the right direction by encouraging family togetherness in the fresh outdoor environment.  

“I think Woodstock provides as safe of an environment for kids as any other town in McHenry County provides,” said Mahlebashian. “I wouldn’t have chosen to raise my children here if I felt otherwise.”