Variety to Build Second All-Inclusive Playground in Des Moines

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Variety – the Children’s Charity is proud to announce it will begin work on its second all-inclusive Star Playground in Des Moines. Variety’s newest playground will be located at Riverview Park.


“Variety believes that playgrounds should be for everybody, regardless of physical limitations and challenges,” said Sheri McMichael, Executive Director of Variety, “We are excited to begin work on the Variety Star Playground at Riverview Park.”


The Variety Star Playground at Riverview Park will be ramped for accessibility, have a poured in place rubber surface and will provide opportunities for children and adults of all abilities to interact together through play. The playground will include shade canopies, play structures to promote core strength, harnessed swings, a saucer swing that allows children to lay flat to experience sensation of swinging and other additional features.


Variety elected to build the Star Playground at Riverview Park because of the park’s centralized location and because it is currently the focus of a revitalization effort.  This larger project will transform the park with the addition of an entertainment stage and shelter. Variety hopes the Star Playground project will infuse additional excitement and energy into the park overhaul.


The redevelopment of Riverview Park is an exciting opportunity for investment and revitalization of the north side of Des Moines,” said Linda Westergaard, Ward 2 City Council Representative, “I'm excited that Variety has chosen to help make Riverview Park a destination by building the fully inclusive Star Playground here. The Star Playground will be a unique and wonderful feature of the renovated Park area, and will create lasting memories for the next generation of kids that experience Riverview.” 


Upon completion, the playground will be gifted to the city of Des Moines. Des Moines Parks and Recreation department will be responsible for maintenance and upkeep.


“Public-private partnerships are a driving force in the further development of our park system,” said Benjamin R. Page, Director of Parks and Recreation. “Working with an organization like Variety – the Children’s Charity first on the Ashley Okland Star Playground and now here at Riverview Park enables us to provide the citizens of with new amenities that perhaps wouldn’t have been possible given limited financial resources. This playground at Riverview could be a catalyst to take this project to the next level.”


Playground Funding

Variety has secured its lead gift through a generous grant from the Polk County Board of Supervisors. Additional funding will be sought through grants, corporate donations and individual gifts. To make a donation visit


Variety Star Playgrounds

The Variety Star Playground at Riverview Park will be Variety’s third all-inclusive playground in Iowa. 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.

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 has broken ground on its second Variety Star Playground in Cedar Rapids and is exploring opportunities to expand the Star Playground concept.


The Importance of All-Inclusive Play

According to 2010 Census data, just over five percent of school aged children in the United States have a disability. All-inclusive playgrounds allow everyone to play as independently as possible while providing a safe environment that allows children of all abilities to develop their skills through fun and challenging play opportunities. 


Play is fundamental to a child’s development, and children with disabilities deserve the opportunity to be socially accepted and included in play with their peers. Variety Star Playgrounds aim to encourage interaction, break down barriers and foster friendships.


About Variety

Variety is dedicated to improving the lives of underprivileged, at-risk and special needs children throughout Iowa. Funding is provided to programs and initiatives that directly impact the well-being of children in our community. For more information on how you can be a part of our work, please visit

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