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what we do IS child’s play.

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It’s no secret. Lumos & Associates love our recreation time. Bike rides, snow skiing, water skiing, paddle boarding, hiking top the list. So when the board of the Eagle Valley Children’s Home asked us to help with their new accessible playground, we couldn’t have been happier.

The Eagle Valley Children’s Home is truly a home to about 20 children and adults, located on the north side of Carson City. The Home was founded in 1946 as a private, not for profit facility to provide care and treatment for Nevada children with severe mental and physical disabilities. The adults living at the facility moved to the home when they were children. Tom Young is a member of the Home’s Board and offered to develop a conceptual plan for the facility on a pro-bono basis. Lumos met with the Home’s director, Beverly Hennen, to gather ideas about the concept plan, and the types of activities desired for the residents. Beverly and her staff wanted to completely renovate the existing playground and remove the large structure located in the middle. The large central play structure wasseldom used since it does not respond to the needs of the home’s residents. The existing playground does offer wonderful opportunities for the residents; families and physical therapists to learn and recreate outdoors in a shaded quiet environment close to Eagle Valley Creek and still visible from the surrounding grounds. After Tom presented the master plan to Beverly, staff, and the other Board members they were pleased enough that it was decided to hire Lumos to complete the construction documents for the facility.

From the initial meeting, goals were established for the new facility, including the following:

1. Enhance accessibility and safety: Remove most of the existing playground equipment and replace the bark mulch below with a colorful rubberized surface that is completely accessible. Provide railings and ADA ramps from the entry to the existing gazebo, including the existing stairs. Add a concrete walk from the main building to the crosswalk and provide the required ramps and signage. Include a wide accessible concrete walk around the interior of the new area. Replace the existing chain link fence with material less institutional looking and move the fence location outside of the existing tree locations.

2. Provide an area for socialization: Create spaces where residents can play and visit with family, other residents and caregivers. Add a seat swing, playhouse, tables, benches and other informal seating opportunities such as lawn and raised platforms along the central pathway.

3. Enhance educational opportunities: Locate tables below the existing gazebo for informal learning opportunities. Include sculptures of animals, insects, reptiles and raptors of the Great Basin. Stamp animal paw prints into the concrete walkway near where the sculptures are located.

4. Create challenges: Add a stair climber, low balance beam, bridge and various surfaces with textures. Encourage the residents to walk rather than sit. Provide a secondary pathway with decomposed granite surface to the creek overlook.

5. Emphasize nature: Construct a rock lined stream bed with re-circulated water through drilled holes in the large boulders. The water will create sound and movement, along with attracting song birds. Plant riparian plants of interest along the stream edge and colorful flowering shrubs and trees. Create a sensory garden for the residents to explore. Add a pathway and overlook below the large tree at the creek edge. Move the existing fence so that the existing trees are within the garden and replace the existing chain link fence with a low metal fence for a more friendly feel.

6. Stimulate creativity: Install colored plexiglass panels that move with the wind to create shadows below on the various surfaces. Add colored glass and mosaic tile pieces to the concrete, flush set, to delineate the water course below and catch the sunlight. Locate music panels with a variety of sound implements for experimentation. Include sculpture that moves or makes sounds with the frequent winds. Frame in the underside of the existing gazebo and paint a mural of a Nevada scene that could be re-painted with the change of seasons.

Lumos met with the principal of Marvin Picollo Elementary School to see and discuss the newer playground there that was built there specifically for children with mental and physical disabilities. Some of the ideas from the school will be incorporated into the new garden area. Currently, Lumos is preparing construction documents for the garden to be approved by the Board and Carson City Planning for summer of 2015 construction. At the same time, the Home is applying for grants to help fund the project. The residents, staff and therapists can look forward to using and enjoying a new facility that will be unique to Northern Nevada.

[ Written by: Dale Doerr, Head of Landscape Architecture,
Lumos & Associates ]

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