All children deserve an opportunity to play
Liz Bullard, Executive Director and the heart and soul of the PlayGarden, has worked with hundreds of children with challenges such as autism, cerebral palsy, and hearing or vision impairments. Watching as these children and and their parents work day by day to help their children succeed. Days filled with appointments, therapies and doctors. A schedule so intense, most adults would buckle under, and at the end of the day, these hard working kids deserve an opportunity to play. Children with special needs don't have the same choices as typically developing kids. Children with cerebral palsy cannot access play equipment, even if the park itself is accessible. Children with autism don't heed common dangers in parks that are not fenced. Parents of children with special needs often leave an outing in a park discouraged and exhausted. What can be pure pleasure for most kids can be a nightmare for families with children with special needs. The PlayGarden is a place where children of all abilities can come and play, simply play outdoors with their friends and siblings in spaces that are accommodating, nurturing, and encourage their potential.
"The lives of families of children with special needs are consumed with therapy, trips to the doctor, tutoring, and school. When these hardworking kids have a break to play, their neighborhood parks and rec centers are often unaccommodating." These observations by Seattle Children's PlayGarden Executive Director Liz Bullard prompted her to form the PlayGarden in 2002.
The Seattle Children's PlayGarden improves the lives of children with physical or mental disabilities by providing them with full access to a safe indoor/outdoor recreation space and offering inclusive programs that encourage their potential.
In 2003, the PlayGarden became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and the Seattle Parks Department offered the south end of Colman Playfield, at 24th Avenue South and South Grand Street, as the site for a public-private development. Today, through this public-private partnership, the entire community can enjoy this beautiful space, and children of all ages and levels of ability enjoy camps, programs, and fun events.