The universally-accessible playground under construction at Waterford Oaks County Park now has a name – the Paradise Peninsula Playscape at Waterford Oaks.The winning entry was submitted by 9-year-old Royal Oak resident Benjamin Godfrey. His entry was selected from nearly 200 proposed names.

“What inspired me to pick Paradise Peninsula was that when I was looking at the plans, it was like a paradise and when I looked closer it was actually a peninsula,” Godfrey said. “Then I realized that Michigan has two peninsulas so why not name it a something that revolves around Michigan?”

The universally-accessible playscape features simulated rock, water and fossil characteristics indicative of the Great Lakes State. The structure includes an “Up North woods” cabin; tree play structure; sand dunes area; marsh with climbing cattails; raised sand play area; and multiple climbing areas. Colorful rubberized surfacing depicts Michigan’s lakes, dunes and forest.

“It’s an innovative approach to providing a recreation opportunity to everyone,” Sandy Dorey, recreation program supervisor – therapeutics and adaptive recreation, said. “A mother pushing a stroller or a parent of a child with a disability will like the ease of the paved path. A level surface will give stability to a grandparent using a cane or walker.”

According to Dorey, there are 164,294 individuals with disabilities in Oakland County alone. The playground meets Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, addressing issues of accessibility and promoting inclusive play.

The Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission received a $250,000 grant for the project through The W.K. Kellogg Foundation Access to Recreation Initiative, administered by the Michigan Recreation and Park Association Foundation. Other partners include Oakland Schools Technical Campuses, Skidmore Studio and Rowe, Inc.

The grand opening and dedication ceremony of the new playscape is July 7.

Oakland County Parks’ has a total of 14 playgrounds that offer outdoor family fun and promote healthy lifestyles at wallet-friendly rates.

“Outdoor play offers an opportunity to engage in activities that enhance fitness, strength, flexibility and endurance,” Dorey said. “Also, imaginary play stimulates cognitive, social and physical development for kids. The best part of outdoor play is that kids do not realize all the health benefits – they are just having fun.”

The parks system offers playgrounds at Addison Oaks County Park in Leonard; Groveland Oaks County Park in Holly;Independence Oaks County Park in Clarkston; and Lyon Oaks County Park in Wixom. Also new this year is the playground at the Red Oaks Soccer Complex in Madison Heights. The Red Oaks Soccer Complex playground is now open and offers a four-way coaster climber, fitness equipment for adults and children, play equipment, a rock climber and three tilted sky runners – unique devices that allow children to hang and twirl.

Oakland County Parks and Recreation has Certified Playground Inspectors who conduct routine playground inspections and modifications to ensure continued safety at each location.

A 2010 Annual Vehicle Permit or daily pass is required for park entry at Addison Oaks, Groveland Oaks, Independence Oaks and Lyon Oaks. For detailed playground descriptions and photos, visit DestinationOakland.com.

News Reporter
Courtney is the traveling mom! She has 3 girls and is the founder of Detroit Mommies and currently lives in Florida. You can follow her on Twitter @courtneyRVL.
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