Kids in San Bernardino are celebrating because they have a new, exciting place to play. For more than a year, representatives from the City of San Bernardino, the LA Kings, LA Galaxy, and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians collaborated with KABOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to playspace equity, to open an accessible playground at Lionel E. Hudson Park.
In January 2020, kids from the community participated in Design Day, an event where they contributed drawings of their dream playgrounds. These drawings were then used as inspiration for the design of the playspace at Lionel E. Hudson Park. The play space includes climbing apparatus, musical elements, logic games, and slides. Accessibility features include a wheelchair glider, accessible swing, and ADA-compliant ramps and sidewalks from the parking lot to the playground. This inclusive space will spark hope and enable kids to reach their full potential through the power of play.
“It has been a difficult year for everyone, especially for our children who have shown their resilience with smiles at drive-thru programs offered in the local community,” said Jim Tickemyer, City of San Bernardino Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services. “This new playground will bring children of all abilities together to play and laugh. To see children at play once again will be music to our hearts.”
When children were no longer able to visit playgrounds due to COVID-19 restrictions, the City of San Bernardino Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department pivoted to serving area children through Grab ‘n Go art activities and virtual physical fitness challenges. With COVID-19 restrictions being relaxed, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and unveiling celebration took place on Saturday, May 22.
“We know disasters and crises often exacerbate the inequities that communities are already experiencing, and in many communities, kids won’t have a playground to go back to once the COVID-19 crisis is over,” says James Siegal, CEO of KABOOM!. “We must stop the playspace inequities from becoming even deeper after we get through this pandemic, giving every kid the chance to play and just enjoy being a kid.”
The project partners believe that play is essential to the development, resilience, and health of children. Communities hit the hardest by the pandemic have been communities of color that may lack access to parks and playspaces due to historic disinvestment. This playspace not only works to help end playspace inequity but also creates a new place for kids to play that reflects the neighborhood’s unique needs and aspirations.
“The LA Kings and LA Galaxy are excited to team up with the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and KABOOM! to build an inclusive playground in the city of San Bernardino,” says Kelly Cheeseman, COO of AEG Sports, owners of the NHL and MLS franchises. “We believe it is essential that all children have the opportunity to play safely and we are thrilled that Hudson Park will now serve the entire community.”
The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians contributed $200,000 as part of its ongoing philanthropic efforts to support San Bernadino and the greater Inland Empire community. Additional contributions from the LA Kings, the Galaxy, KABOOM! and the city of San Bernadino helped make the project possible.
“The Spirit of Yawa’ – to act on one’s beliefs – inspires us to improve the quality of life here in our ancestral lands of San Bernardino,” said San Manuel Chairman Ken Ramirez. “Offering children safe, enriching places to play and develop physically, socially and emotionally will benefit our community far into the future.”
To ensure that playgrounds can open safely in every community, KABOOM! has issued important playground guidance that communities, playground owners/operators, and caregivers can follow. The guidance can be viewed or downloaded at kaboom.org/reopen.