The All-Together Playground, “where everybody plays,” was “built with love” in Orem’s City Center Park in September 2016. Over 4,100 volunteers from across the community dedicated their time and talents during the playground’s build week, filling in three shifts from 8 a.m. to dark daily in order to completely redesign, adapt, rebuild and rediscover the area for children of all ages and abilities.
The playground, supported with donations of time and money from Habitat for Humanity, Jimmer Fredette and even comedian Brian Regan as well as countless members of the community, was the first public all-ability playground to be built in Utah County and was just the fifth of such type of play area in the state of Utah. Its careful construction, design and attention to detail offers a fun experience for all children, including those who are wheelchair-bound or with learning or sensory issues.
With that in mind, here are 15 fun things to note at the All-Together Playground.
— By Kari Kenner, Daily Herald
A labor of love
One of the most impressive features of the All-Together Playground is the fact that it stemmed from the community not only realizing a need, but acting on it to create something that benefited the entire area.
Support for the concept transformed a simple swing and slide park into a vast collection of interactive toys and playground equipment for children with all abilities to enjoy, safely surrounded by a fence to keep it contained.
Community enthusiasm drew in donations from businesses and individuals across the area, as well as support from the Fredette Family Foundation and a portion of proceeds from Brian Regan’s Utah comedy tour appearance.
But it wasn’t just the finances that enabled the park concept to come to fruition. Countless hours of service from over 4,000 individual community volunteers with supervision by playground construction professionals allowed it to be built in just under seven days with careful attention to every detail.
Though most imagine a playground packed with children running, laughing and climbing, not all have that kind of ability, which is why the All-Together Playground is so special. From the higher fences to a series of ramps, family bathrooms with large changing tables to adaptive swings, a variety of carefully planned features make the All-Together Playground a place where kids in all phases of development and with a wide-variety of abilities can play together side-by-side.
An eye toward safety
One thing not immediately noticeable about the playground is the careful attention to detail that helps to make the area safe for all children. Not only is it nearly entirely fenced with sitting areas elongating the entrance, most benches are placed away from the walls so they can’t be easily used to navigate over the fences.
There is also a soft rubber turf throughout the play areas with low platforms, ramps, many belted swings and carefully enclosed play spaces that are elevated to help remove the risk of falling.
As a bonus, the central benches are largely covered, offering a little bit of a shady reprieve on a hot day.
A wheelchair swing
One of the most unique features at the All-Together Playground is the wheelchair swing purchased with the funds from Brian Regan’s donation.
Local resident Mindy Gleason played an instrumental role in getting the playground project advanced and also served on the All-Together Playground committee, so the committee decided the swing be named “Presley’s Swing” after her daughter.
What makes the swing so unique is that children in wheelchairs are able to remain in their chair while still being able to swing, an adaptive piece of equipment that helps provide more opportunities for play for wheelchair-bound youth who can’t be transferred to a regular swing.
A play area for younger kids
The size of the All-Together Playground can be a little overwhelming, especially when considering all its features, so the fact that there is a separately divided play area for younger children is a benefit to many parents.
The area includes smaller slides, areas for imaginative play including a train with sound effects, a swaying ship, a theater, a music area, tiny toadstools for climbing and even tunnels. That area also has a narrow entrance to help keep children from getting lost.
An all-abilities merry-go-round
An icon of many individuals’ childhoods is a merry-go-round, though the classic toy isn’t readily accessible in its traditional design.
At the All-Together Playground, however, the merry-go-round is set into the turf with areas for wheelchairs as well as children who can be transferred to seats. Still serving all the basic fun functions of the toy, the All-Together merry-go-round is something that everyone can play on together.
A unique teeter-totter
Though most teeter-totters are one-on-one and can easily allow for children to be launched with reckless play, the All-Together equipment is much more adaptive, including two bucket seats with handles on each side of a central area, allowing for more children to play while offering a central, balanced approach that helps to prevent injury.
Themed play areas
As mentioned, the All-Together Playground is packed with unique features, including a swaying boat structure and even a spaceship covered in stars and planets with buttons to make it more interactive. Each themed area shows attention to detail, with several ways to get in and play, allowing it to be accessed by children of all ages and abilities.
It even includes a tech area, with an interactive musical play structure that combines just the right amount of technology to still allow for some outdoor fun in the sun.
Kids don’t always need a swing or slide to enjoy an afternoon at the playground, and that’s evident in how packed the imaginative play areas at Orem’s playground always are. From a theater to a fruit stand and garden center, children at the playground can use their imaginations to add even more fun to their experience at the playground, and all play areas are level with the ground, making for easy wheelchair access.
A popular addition to parks and playgrounds lately are ziplines, and Orem’s All-Together Playground is no different. A traditional zipline with platforms on each end is situated right next to a seated zipline with over the shoulder buckles that offer a similar experience to children who might struggle holding on with the rope and small seating of a traditional zipline.
Places to climb
One of the best things about playgrounds is the opportunity for kids to get their energy out in a healthy way, and the climbing area at the All-Together Playground definitely contribute to that.
Not only can kids climb a uniquely painted set of mountains embedded with rock wall holds, but they can also tackle a rope wall with wooden steps or a mesh rope ladder, in addition to a set of stairs and a ramp, all leading up to the same play area.
A castle-themed play structure offers some of the most dynamic play, at least when it comes to slides. A central fixture in the play area, the slides structure has three different textured and shaped slides side-by-side with a regular straight slide to one side and a tunneled curvy slide to the other side. And that’s not mentioning the slides in the toddler play area, or the unique spinning conveyor belt slide that add even more ways to play.
A variety of swings
From a disc swing to enclosed and belted swings, a tire swing to a two person swing with regular seat and infant seat, there’s no shortage of swings at the All-Together Playground either. Though children without special needs can certainly have fun on any of the swing options, the more enclosed and belted ones provide safety and fun for a variety of children, including a unique sensory experience on the disc swing.
Nothing sparks the imagination quite like beautiful artwork, and there’s no shortage of it at Orem’s playground. Not only are most of the climbing structures themed with unique art pieces, but a beautiful metal structure of a dragon on a book offers a striking view for all visitors to the play area to appreciate.
An obstacle course
For those more adventurous playground goers, an area of the All-Together Playground also offers a unique take on an obstacle course with balancing platforms, hanging rings, a bridge and more. The area is shaped so that kids can start wherever they like and go where their adventures take them.