Project Play

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Project Play – Esther Short Park

Project Play is a vision to strategically place fully accessible playgrounds at parks throughout Vancouver, where people of all ages and abilities can thrive together through play. We are excited to share that in 2022 the play area at Esther Short Community Park (W. 8th & Columbia) will be reimagined using the radically inclusive model designed by our partners at Harper's Playground!

Why Esther Short Community Park?

The play equipment at Esther Short Park was installed in 1998 and at over 20 years old, is ready to be replaced. As one of Vancouver’s most popular parks, a fully inclusive playground at Esther Short Park will be used by many residents and visitors.

The new play area will incorporate accessible equipment and natural materials that are key to the Harper’s Playground model. Decorative elements will be added to reference the historical significance of the park and honor its Victorian design.

Funding for the new play area at Esther Short Park is being covered by fees collected from developers during the Vancouver Waterfront Park project. There are no direct costs to Vancouver residents.

What is the Harper's Playground "Radically Inclusive" model?

  • Physically Inviting: Is it accessible? And is it adaptive? Universal accessibility ensures that everybody can get everywhere and to everything. Adaptability means everything is designed to suit different conditions or needs.
  • Socially Inviting: Is it natural? Is it communal? Nature provides a calming effect on our mental and physical health, reducing fear, stress, and anger. Open, communal spaces allow people to gather, connect and share.
  • Emotionally Inviting: Is it thoughtful? Is it beautiful? Humans are impacted by their surroundings. Small, thoughtful details that provide comfort and delight the senses have a positive effect on a person’s wellbeing.

The most recent U.S Census data shows that one in five Americans has a disability. Most playgrounds incorporate basic ramps and a few wheelchair accessible play options to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act’s 2010 playground rules. Even with these changes, many members of our community are left on the sidelines.

In addition to making the park more inviting for people with disabilities, there is overwhelming evidence that unstructured play environments with natural features are also preferred by children who do not experience disability. We are excited to create a truly inclusive and welcoming space at Esther Short Park, where people of all abilities can play together and thrive.

Design Highlights

  • Double Slide & Play Mound
  • Boulder Scramble
  • Climbing Dome
  • Zero Entry Merry Go All
  • Swings
  • Roxall See-Saw
  • Music Garden
  • Increased Seating
  • Additional trees and landscaping

View the design plans for Esther Short Park in an interactive PDF here. Once the file is opened, click on any feature with white text to see a real-life photo.

Project Play – Esther Short Park

Project Play is a vision to strategically place fully accessible playgrounds at parks throughout Vancouver, where people of all ages and abilities can thrive together through play. We are excited to share that in 2022 the play area at Esther Short Community Park (W. 8th & Columbia) will be reimagined using the radically inclusive model designed by our partners at Harper's Playground!

Why Esther Short Community Park?

The play equipment at Esther Short Park was installed in 1998 and at over 20 years old, is ready to be replaced. As one of Vancouver’s most popular parks, a fully inclusive playground at Esther Short Park will be used by many residents and visitors.

The new play area will incorporate accessible equipment and natural materials that are key to the Harper’s Playground model. Decorative elements will be added to reference the historical significance of the park and honor its Victorian design.

Funding for the new play area at Esther Short Park is being covered by fees collected from developers during the Vancouver Waterfront Park project. There are no direct costs to Vancouver residents.

What is the Harper's Playground "Radically Inclusive" model?

  • Physically Inviting: Is it accessible? And is it adaptive? Universal accessibility ensures that everybody can get everywhere and to everything. Adaptability means everything is designed to suit different conditions or needs.
  • Socially Inviting: Is it natural? Is it communal? Nature provides a calming effect on our mental and physical health, reducing fear, stress, and anger. Open, communal spaces allow people to gather, connect and share.
  • Emotionally Inviting: Is it thoughtful? Is it beautiful? Humans are impacted by their surroundings. Small, thoughtful details that provide comfort and delight the senses have a positive effect on a person’s wellbeing.

The most recent U.S Census data shows that one in five Americans has a disability. Most playgrounds incorporate basic ramps and a few wheelchair accessible play options to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act’s 2010 playground rules. Even with these changes, many members of our community are left on the sidelines.

In addition to making the park more inviting for people with disabilities, there is overwhelming evidence that unstructured play environments with natural features are also preferred by children who do not experience disability. We are excited to create a truly inclusive and welcoming space at Esther Short Park, where people of all abilities can play together and thrive.

Design Highlights

  • Double Slide & Play Mound
  • Boulder Scramble
  • Climbing Dome
  • Zero Entry Merry Go All
  • Swings
  • Roxall See-Saw
  • Music Garden
  • Increased Seating
  • Additional trees and landscaping

View the design plans for Esther Short Park in an interactive PDF here. Once the file is opened, click on any feature with white text to see a real-life photo.

  • Vancouver Parks and Recreation seeks public input on new, inclusive playground at Esther Short Park.

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    News Release from City of Vancouver

    Vancouver, Washington – Vancouver Parks and Recreation is seeking public input on a new, inclusive playground it plans to build at Esther Short Park (West Eighth and Columbia streets) in spring 2022.

    Installed in 1998, the playground equipment at Esther Short Community Park has reached the end of its lifecycle and needs to be replaced. This a strategic opportunity to increase equitable access to play at one of the most popular destinations in the city’s parks system. The new playground at Esther Short Park will be the first endeavor completed under Project Play, Vancouver Parks and Recreation’s vision to strategically place inclusive playgrounds at key parks in the city.

    The new playground design incorporates adaptive equipment and natural materials that are foundational to the Harper’s Playground inclusive model. The unstructured play environment promotes exploration and is generally preferred by children and parents, including those who do not experience disability. Decorative elements of the design reference the historical significance of the park and honor its Victorian aesthetic. The new playground will replace the existing playground on the west side of the park.

    “We are excited to share these plans with the community,” said Vancouver Parks and Recreation Director Julie Hannon. “We are committed to making Vancouver parks welcoming spaces where all members of our community can build connections with neighbors and nature. Creating radically inclusive play spaces with the expertise of Harper’s Playground is an important step for our community.”

    Vancouver residents are encouraged to visit www.beheardvancouver.org/project-play to get a first look at plans to transform the Esther Short Park playground. Visitors to the site can click through an architectural rendering, ask questions and leave feedback on the proposed design.

    The playground design is a partnership with Harper’s Playground, an Oregon-based non-profit that creates inviting playgrounds for people of all abilities. Cody and April Goldberg founded Harper’s Playground in 2010 to create a play space for their daughter, Harper, who uses wheels to get around.

    “We are designing the Esther Short Park playground to be accessible and adaptive so that the space is physically inviting; we are highlighting nature so that it’s socially inviting; and we are being creative with artistic details so that the playground is emotionally inviting,” explains Harper’s Playground co-founder Cody Goldberg. “We are thrilled to be collaborating with Vancouver Parks and Recreation on this project and are excited to see strong community support for our shared vision.”

    Addressing Community Needs Through Play

    The most recent available U.S Census data shows that one in five Americans has a disability. Public school districts in Vancouver report that over 14% of enrolled students will receive special education services in 2020-2021, according to the Washington State Report Card from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

    Most playgrounds incorporate accessibility basics like ramps, barrier-free travel routes and limited play options to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act’s 2010 playground rules. However, these changes do little to create a truly inclusive and welcoming space where people of all abilities can play together and thrive.

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    About Harper’s Playground
    Harper’s Playground is a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in Portland, Oregon, whose mission is to inspire vital communities by creating inviting playgrounds for people of all abilities. They are a globally recognized leader in the movement to make public play spaces more inviting for everyone. Their community-driven roots date to the founding by local parents on a mission to create a more equitable world for their daughters, one of whom uses wheels to get around. Together with their community, they designed, funded and built a brand new, first of its kind, fully-inclusive, nature-based playground at Arbor Lodge Park. For more information, visit www.harpersplayground.org.