West Side Rag » Bloomingdale’s Inclusive Park and Playground is looking for volunteer gardeners
Posted on May 3, 2022 at 12:40 a.m. by West Side Rag
By Lisa Kava
If you’ve got a green thumb and are looking for a fun and productive way to use it this spring, Bloomingdale’s Playground in Amsterdam and 105th adjacent to PS 145 needs your help.
Friends of the Bloomingdale’s Inclusive Park and Playground, the non-profit organization that maintains the playground, forms its first gardening committee. Volunteers are needed to plant bulbs and a committee leader is needed to take on projects and planning.
Time Out called the Bloomingdale’s Playground “the play space every neighborhood should have”. It was renovated in 2019 as part of the Community Parks Initiative (CPI), a program run by the Department of Parks with funding from the mayor’s office. CPI was launched in 2014 with the goal of improving neighborhood parks and playgrounds that were previously neglected.
Two members of Community Board 7, Rita Genn (former member) and Sheldon Fine, teamed up with a PS 145 representative, Cidalia Costa, to form the nonprofit after the renovation. But the three had worked together for years. They have been brainstorming and sharing ideas about the renovation project with each other and with the parks department since 2014.
“We really wanted kids of all skill levels to be able to play together,” Genn told West Side Rag in a phone interview. “We wanted children with disabilities to be able to play alongside normally developing children. The social integration of children with special needs was an important objective.
The idea of inclusivity and accessibility became key to the playground renovation. “It was important for us to provide a universal design where everyone could use the space,” Fine told the Rag. “Being inclusive embraces children of all different abilities. Being accessible is part of a disability, a physical disability,” Fine said.
The playground was renovated using the “7 Principles of Universal Design”, which include; fair use, flexibility of use, simple and intuitive use, perceptible information, error tolerance, low physical effort, size and space of approach and use.
“The old playground was sad to look at and difficult to use,” Fine said. Once the renovation is complete, the playground includes a section for children aged 2 to 5 and another for children aged 5 to 12. The benches are arranged in a circular design where adults can sit and socialize. The basketball courts have different heights, so children in wheelchairs can use them, Genn explained. The playground is equipped with circular water jets that spray at ground level. The equipment has ramps and the restrooms are ADA compliant. There is also a fitness area for adults.
In an effort to further the mission of inclusivity and community, Genn, Fine and Costa have decided to form the Gardening Committee for Spring 2022. “We want to open the park up to the wider community to come and plant flowers for summer so more people can get involved and feel connected,” Fine said. Previous gardening experience is welcome but not required. The first meeting of the gardening committee will take place at the playground on May 22 at 11:00 a.m. At that time, a committee leader will be chosen. If you are interested in joining the gardening committee, contact: