Here’s an obvious statement:
There are a lot of children in Utah County.
Unfortunately, what hasn’t been so obvious is finding a way to give all of them opportunities to get outside and play.
While several local cities have embraced the need for more and better parks in their master plans, with a few even placing tax proposals on the upcoming November ballot to pay for such facilities, it took Orem and some forward-thinking parents to bring to life the first public, all-ability playground in the county.
In fact, it will only be the fifth such public playground in the state.
The park, which will replace the playground that’s now at Orem’s City Center Park, won’t be operational until next spring, should everything go as planned. Still, kudos to these willing partners for coming together and realizing the need for a local park where all kids can have the opportunity to laugh and play.
Utah County is a mecca for young families, and the needs of such families manifest themselves in many different ways. Many local children suffer from physical disabilities, while many others fall on the autism spectrum. Traditional playgrounds oftentimes are not equipped to provide the same play experience for children who must use wheelchairs or walkers, or who deal with certain sensory issues.
There are a handful of nonprofit organizations that have recognized this, and have created all-ability facilities for the use of their own patients and clients. Now, thankfully, we have a local city stepping forward and recognizing the need for a public space that offers those same benefits.
Here in Utah County, we are extremely proud of our quality of life. It takes little provocation for residents to tell those who live in other parts of the state, country or world about all the benefits our little corner of real estate has to offer.
Most notable on that list is always our outdoor activities, whether it’s skiing down a mountain or on a lake, tossing a lure into one of our local rivers, hitting the links at a local golf course, or exploring hundreds of miles of hiking trails.
A few months ago, we saw Provo take the initiative to add to those offerings by creating a new dog park to allow our four-legged residents and their people a place to socialize, frolic and play.
Now, Orem is stepping forward and creating a space for an even more important group in our society.
Every parent will tell you there is no better sound in the world than a child’s laughter. We anxiously await next spring, when the unmistakable glee of happy children — children of all abilities — fills the air.