Inclusive play Rotary PlayGarden opens in San Jose

Rotary PlayGarden opening day was a success. The fully accessible PlayGarden, located on City of San Jose’s Guadalupe River Park, is a first of its kind for San Jose and is the Centennial project funded by the Rotary Club of San Jose and the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy. The project is also partly funded by the Santa Clara County Office of Education which indicates the level of integration the playground offers to children of all abilities.

The play area started out as a vision by Rotarian Julie Matsushima, with a recognition that the disparity of the play spaces often leads to isolation for children with needs. She had a desire to see her twin granddaughters, Aimee and Chloe, be able to play side-by-side, even though Aimee was born with cerebral palsy. It was her initial determination and connection as past president of the Rotary Club of San Jose that began the drive to make the Playground construction the focus of the Centennial project.

The PlayGarden focuses on providing multiple activities that accommodate a variety of needs, including spinning, rotating, swinging, sliding and tactile play. There is climbing, spinning and bouncing equipment, kinetic elements, sand, water play and even a wheelchair accessible carousel—all in a layout that encourages playing together. The restroom facility is a family style accessible stall and includes a bench for changing an elder child with disabilities.

The park’s legacy includes hiring and training staff with special needs to help maintain the park. In addition, Santa Clara County Office of Education and San Andreas Regional Center will support programming at the facility for their clients.