All Inclusive Playground for Children and Adults
Walking past a playground on a beautiful afternoon is a joyous thing. The sounds of children at play include laughter, squeals, and shrieks. The exhilaration of zooming down a slide or going ever higher on a swing truly can compete with video games and TV. Children may enjoy playing with other children, but children with disabilities often must sit on the sidelines as spectators. Most playgrounds lack the proper equipment to accommodate their specific needs.
Children with a disability have the same desire and ability to have fun on the playground but often lack the opportunity to join the action. Salina is fortunate to have an inclusive playground – Olivia’s Playground.
The commitment to establish Olivia’s Playground was sparked by Sid and Susy Reitz, whose granddaughter, Olivia Bloomfield, has used a motorized wheelchair since she was a toddler. Located alongside the Smoky Hill River Channel near many downtown attractions, Center Street Park provides an inclusive space for all ages and abilities to exercise and play together.
Olivia’s Playground includes many traditional playground favorites, such as slides, swings, and jungle gyms, all adapted for children with special needs. For safety, the entire playground is surrounded by a wrought iron fence and is lit in the evening.
At this playground, inclusion means not only all children but also adults. A running/walking path winds around the play area in a quarter-mile loop. From any place on the track, an adult can see their children on the playground. There is also adult fitness equipment called the Thrive 450, located near the playground inside the walking path. The Thrive has multiple training stations and can accommodate several users at once, reducing wait times and providing a wide range of training options at every station. This area also includes ADA-accessible stations.
Watch the Video to Experience Olivia’s Playground
‘Tis the season at Center Street Park
The Salina Regional Health Foundation debuted a new holiday lighting attraction in late November 2021 at Center Street Park — home to OIivia’s Playground. The park is located at the intersection of Center and Fourth Streets in central Salina.
While the lights are visible from Center Street, the best way to view the attraction is on foot using the quarter-mile walking/running trail that winds around the park. Five themed displays are included around the path: Elf Village, Penguin Park, Secret Garden, 12 Days of Christmas and Winter Magic.
Olivia’s Playground at Center Street Park opened in June 2019 as a multigenerational park where people of all ages and abilities can exercise and play together. Salinans Sid and Susy Reitz were instrumental in bringing the park to the community. They were inspired by their granddaughter, Olivia Bloomfield, who uses a wheelchair and enjoys playing on inclusive playgrounds near her hometown in Leawood, Kan. The Reitz’s saw the need for an inclusive playground that was centrally located in Salina and open year-round. With support from the foundation and many others in the community, the dream became a reality.
The Reitz’s also helped lead efforts to bring the holiday lighting display to the playground this year. Funding for the project was supported through a significant grant from the Don C. and Florence M. McCune Foundation and a gift from the Reitz family.
“Our family has always enjoyed seeing the various Christmas displays and we felt it would be wonderful to use the park, and the walking path, and make it a winter wonderland for everyone to enjoy,” Sid Reitz said. “We have always loved Christmas, and we wanted to share the magical spirit of the holidays with all ages and abilities.”
The lights will be on each evening through the holidays. Decorating the park is planned to be an annual event.