July Checklist Item: Explore the Play for All Abilities Park in Round Rock
What is arguably one of the Austin-area's best parks, Play for All Abilities Park in Round Rock took five years of planning and a communitywide effort to bring an all-accessible park for kids with and without disabilities to fruition. The park, with over 51,000-square feet of fun, includes:
- Retreat Pod
- Sensory Pod-Sand Box
- Rock Band Pod
- Rolling Hill/Performance Lawn
- Sensory Pod
- All Abilities Playscape
- All Ability Swings
- Brushy Creek Village life skills area
|The Rock Pod Stage is a favorite!|
Yes, there are special swings for easy wheelchair access. Yes, there are ramps on the playscape. Yes, there are lots of places kids can attune fine motor skills and interact. But, apart from the bucket swings and “big kid” swings, it’s unlikely your child will have played on any of the equipment in the park before. In an era when many playscapes look very similar, this is a refreshing change. I especially liked the “Rock Band Pod” where you can play various “instruments” like drums and xylophone-like bells.
|There's even a play fire hydrant!|
Realistic play in Round Rock Village
Both I and my kids love how Round Rock Village is so realistic. Thanks to funding from local Round Rock area businesses, The Play for All Foundation was able to raise enough funds to create a very lifelike village complete with streets to "drive" down, real stoplights, a fire station, car dealership, an H-E-B, a hospital and more. Kids are allowed to bring trikes, bikes and scooters in to practice driving around the village. Note: when the park is busy, it can be a bit dicey to cross the streets with all the traffic. It makes for an excellent opportunity to practice looking both ways.
Layout, design maximizes shade
The park is fenced and quite large with many large oak trees incorporated into its design, which will undoubtedly provide shade during our hot Texas summers. The playground structure is partially covered and the life skills area, Brushy Creek Village, could provide a cool(er) spot to take a break from the sun.
Kids of all abilities can play side by side
Yes, I realize I’m stating the obvious, but what better way for children to understand each other than to play together? I really like the idea that my son can see that although someone else may be in a wheelchair, he or she can still experience the same joy as he does on a swing.
“Little” accommodations go a long way
You may have seen cars like these two below before. But upon closer inspection, you can notice that while the red car has small seats which can transform it into a pretend race car, the blue car does not, to allow a child to wheel him or herself in and race to the finish!
The park is large enough to never feel full, even when it is in fact busy. We've been there on quiet weekdays and crazy Saturdays when birthday parties are happening, and we have never felt overwhelmed with the amount of people enjoying the park.
As an added bonus, if you have a train lover in your family, the park sits just across the parking lot from very busy train tracks. It's likely you'll see not just one train but two or three on your trip to Play for All Abilities!
What to bring: shovels, tractors, dump trucks and more sand toys for the sand pod. Trikes, scooters, bike and helmet, of course, to cruise around in Round Rock Village. Sunscreen, a picnic, water and you are set!
Location: 151 N. A.W. Grimes Blvd., Round Rock
Hours: 6 a.m. to midnight daily