Inclusive Playgrounds

Variety believes that playgrounds should be thrilling for all children! The majority of playgrounds throughout Iowa do not offer adaptations for children with special needs. In 2014, Variety provided the City of Des Moines with its first all-inclusive playground, the Ashley Okland Star Playground, in memory of Young Variety Board Member, Ashley Okland. Providing a playground for children of all abilities to play together helps promote play, healthy physical activity and learning for all children. Outdoor play experiences provide the perfect opportunity to support inclusive play by creating awareness, breaking down barriers and fostering friendships.


Based on the positive feedback and the success of the Ashley Okland Star Playground, Variety recognized the need and desire for all-inclusive playgrounds in other Iowa communities. Variety is working to bring the Star Playground concept to additional communities throughout the state.

Star Playground at Riverview Park (Des Moines)

As part of a larger revitalization effort, Variety has recently completed a capital campaign to build Des Moines’ second inclusive playground in Riverview Park. This 14,500 square foot playground, the largest to date, will pay homage the Riverview Amusement Park. Its design is inspired by the original park rides including the iconic Wild Mouse. This park is scheduled to be installed in the summer of 2020. 


The Variety Star Playground will address the needs of every child and encourage children, adults and families to experience the benefits of play together. The playground will feature three distinct areas with equipment that is age appropriate for children 6-23 months, 2-5 years and 6-12 years old. Some of the inclusive amenities the playground will offer include:


  • Rubberized safety surface that improves accessibility and softens falls
  • Swings with adaptive seats and harnesses that provide additional support
  • Ramps throughout the playground so children with mobility disabilities can get to all features
  • Equipment at heights that is accessible by wheelchair
  • Large flat swings with rubber bumpers that allow children with sensory disorders to lay across them and enjoy the calming to-and-fro motion
  • A merry-go-round with high backed seats and transfer points from wheel chair or walker
  • Two zip lines including one with a molded bucket seat and snap in place harness
  • Adaptive see saw, accessible glider, sensory components and many more special features


For more information on the Variety Star Playground and how you can help, please contact Sheri or donate below.


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Star Playground at Noelridge Park (Cedar Rapids)

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A $475,000 capital campaign to provide a 9,600 square foot all-inclusive Variety Star Playground at Noelridge Park on the Northeast side of Cedar Rapids was completed in the spring of 2017. Variety broke ground on Cedar Rapids first all-inclusive playground in May and opened the Variety Star Playground to a large crowd in October.



Ashley Okland Star Playground (Des Moines)

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In 2014, Variety provided the City of Des Moines with its first all-inclusive playground, the Ashley Okland Star Playground.  Variety’s flagship playground is located within Ewing Park on the Southeast side of Des Moines and has become a destination playground.

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