General Recreation: New Inclusive Playground an Act of Friendship in Pittsburgh’s East End


With the help of General Recreation Inc. in Newtown Square, a dream was fulfilled in the Friendship Neighborhood in Pittsburgh.

The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh & Lemieux Family Center had dreamed of an inclusive playground in their backyard.

The independent, non-profit organization helps children of all ages with services that strengthen families. There’s an adoption program, a daycare for medically fragile children, and a transitional care hospital for children. 

The organization has been known to team up with other neighborhood groups to offer children a place to learn, play, and socialize.

 “Children experience play in different ways, and we had a dream to one day build a completely inclusive playground that we could also share with our community,” explains Matt Defrange, Foundation and Community Relations Manager at The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh and Lemieux Family Center.  “We were delighted when an opportunity to fund the playground came up unexpectedly.”

Defrange and his team found General Recreation and advisor Curtis Bischof to help them bring the inclusive playground to life.

 “Curtis helped us to visualize our project and guide us through the planning process. This was our first time developing a fully accessible playground and the site had challenges,” Defrange said.  

The original playground was a small playset that couldn’t be accessed by children with braces or in power chairs because it lacked ground-level ramps and other play features.

“Curtis was amazing to work with and his ability to troubleshoot was a huge factor in the project’s success,” Defrange said.

Curtis suggested laying a concrete slab before installing the playground surfacing and structures to ensure a smooth, level rubber safety surface to cushion falls and provide access to everyone.

Key accessibility features included Landscape Structures’ double-wide bridges and ramps leading to the Sensory Tunnel and Club House.

The tunnel, which is Powerchair accessible, is a sensory-rich experience filled with color, light, and texture, and the Club House has enough room for everyone to hang out together.

A variety of durable, ground-level musical instruments are easy to reach for everyone, including a kettle drum, chimes and giant xylophone,

Additional sensory play elements include “cause and effect” panels with bongos, gear turners, rain sounds and color splashes.

Parents have expressed immense appreciation for their children’s opportunity to play alongside and socialize with children of all abilities. It’s truly an act of friendship in an aptly named neighborhood!

About General Recreation

General Recreation Inc. serves Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, and has helped hundreds of community leaders and organizations build playgrounds that are safe, aesthetically pleasing, and made to last.

General Recreation projects are supported by expert and trusted services, including site evaluation, playground design, installation and community build services.

Whether your playground will consist of an outdoor playground at a preschool or a large community playground, experienced commercial playground experts will help you every step of the way.

Find out more about the work of General Recreation.

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