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09-30-22 | Feature

Paloma Park, Peoria, Arizona

A Place of Peace
by Staff

At 85 acres, Paloma Park, with its universally designed play environment, water play area, sports fields, a lake for fishing, and a dog park, is a needed addition to the Phoenix, Arizona, suburb of Peoria. The design of the park was a team effort that included the playground equipment manufacturer, a local playground equipment supplier from the nearby town of Mesa, and the City of Peoria.
The playground area is slightly elevated above the rest of the park. The play area for kids from 5 to 12 years old features a 16-feet-high Nucleus?(R) Evolution?(R) tower, which is designed to be awe-inspiring to this age group.
The playground area is slightly elevated above the rest of the park. The play area for kids from 5 to 12 years old features a 16-feet-high Nucleus?(R) Evolution?(R) tower, which is designed to be awe-inspiring to this age group.
Another piece of spinning play equipment is the Inclusive Orbit, found on the left side of the photo that doesn't require users to transfer from their mobility device if they aren't able or choose not to, but allows them to still enjoy the spinning experience. A partially ramped structure was specified to help the older kids interact as they move through the space.
The play area for kids from two to five years was designed to help this age group transition from parallel play to cooperative play. The equipment features smaller handholds and lower reaches.
Around and between the two age-intended play areas is a pathway built of poured-in-place concrete with pavers. This middle pathway was intended to not only delineate the two different areas but to allow caregivers to be able to easily supervise children in their charge who are in the different areas at the same time.
Special play panels designed to help children express themselves, are positioned on the pathways around the play areas. As pictured, one of these panels helps kids learn to read analog clocks, another allows them to play with a steering wheel, and another lets them pretend to fly in a jet.
Sun shades from Shade 'N Net are made with threads that have a color on each side, and become iridescent when the sun shines through. The safety surfacing is multicolored with green blue, and black areas. Paloma Park was designed by Play it Safe Playgrounds, and the city of Peoria, featuring play equipment and structures from BCI Burke.
The water play area includes a number of different water fountains and a dumping bucket. There are lighting fixtures installed under the fountains that illuminate the water, making play on hot summer nights a possibility.

Parks play a vital role in the health and wellness of communities. It's evident when we look at research - communities that invest in parks and greenspaces improve everything from high school graduation rates to tourism and home values to obesity rates.

Parks draw in and connect individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities and help develop pride in where they live. Paloma Park in Peoria, Arizona, is 85-acres full of incredible, unique outdoor opportunities that bring community members and visitors together outside for a variety of activities appealing to all ages and abilities.

Meeting the Needs of Many
Designing a community space means taking into account all potential users, including caregivers and community members, and providing places for them to engage, play, move, rest, and socialize comfortably.

A variety of activity options is key to providing a holistic experience for everyone. With a lake, fishing spots, a water play area, sports fields, a dog park, and of course, a universally designed play environment, Paloma Park offers opportunities for everyone to spend time moving outside.

Finding the Inspiration
Looking at the space from above, the shape of a dove is evident and represents the namesake of the park. Paloma is Spanish for dove, and since a dove often represents peace, the park was then intended to create peace and intention, feelings the designers hope the users of the park will experience when playing and engaging in this space.
Situated between mountain ranges that provide spectacular views, the area has a major "wow" factor that calls everyone for adventure, fun, and play. The entire experience is designed with some important objectives - inclusivity, adventure, and helping everyone find the best of themselves through play.

Age-appropriate play is an important part of inclusion and the design of Paloma Park reflects that. Varying developmental stages are represented in each of the areas - 2-5 and 5-12. Both areas encourage interaction and development for kids of all abilities.

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The 2-5 Play Area
The 2-5 space has play events with smaller handholds, lower reaches, and pieces that are engaging to children as they develop from parallel to cooperative play.

Its inclusive design has many facets. Play variety is one important key to this and means everyone can have an equitable play experience that feels like it was meant just for them. Climbing, sliding, exploring, imaginative play, and sensory play are all part of a holistic play experience in this area for younger children that helps children develop skills that transcend the play space.

The 5-12 Play Area
This area is full of adventure, spinning, sliding, and has a partially ramped structure so all children can move through the space and interact in play.

The adventure comes in many forms. One is BCI Burke's Nucleus?(R) Evolution?(R) tower where children will feel as though they are suspended in space while looking out over the landscape into the mountains with a view of a dam in the distance.

The playground area is elevated above the rest of the park and the experience of looking down on the fields while seeing the mountains adds to the adventurous feel of climbing to the top of the 16-foot tower.

Sliding down brings more adventure when kids twist and turn down the slides developing core strength and learning age-appropriate, risk-taking behavior in an environment that is conducive to creating confidence and resiliency.

Play equity doesn't mean everyone has the same experience, but rather that a variety of opportunities are provided so each child can play within their comfort level and have the chance to challenge themselves in their own ways.

A piece of equipment that exemplifies this is the Volta?,,? Spinner, which can be used by up to nine children and has seats for different levels of spinning comfort, including outward facing seats at mobility device transfer height.

The Inclusive Orbit is another spinning option but doesn't require users to transfer if they aren't able or choose not to. Both provide a spinning experience within the play environment and having these two options offer children a choice that meets their ability, preference, and comfort level.

The Added Amenities
Between the two areas is a pathway where children and caregivers can move between the spaces and the caregivers can supervise play in both areas.
Comfort for the caregivers is important and positively impacts the amount of time children are able to spend at the play areas - the more time they spend, the better the results!

Allowing users to create their own pathways throughout the space gives everyone the same options for engagement. The poured-in-place surfacing at Paloma Park is smooth and comfortable for everyone to move on and through. The accessible pathway around the entire play space provides perceptible information and shows where the area begins and ends.

Infusing natural elements into the space, tree planters surround the play areas and bring the natural world inside. Panels, including a Communication Panel to help children express themselves, are positioned around the play areas on the pathway for ease of access and to provide a transition into the play environment.
Bringing in a visual experience that is also utilitarian, the colorful shades protect people from the sun and keep the equipment temperatures down on hot days - very important in the Arizona heat. The shades, from Shade 'N Net, constructed with two-color threads that have a color on each side, become iridescent when the sun shines through providing a color experience that changes with the position of the sun creating a new visual event each time it is viewed.

All's Well that Ends Well
This magical play space was designed with the intention to provide a place where all people can connect, grow, learn, develop, and be part of something bigger. Kids, families, community members, and visitors come here to spend time together outside. This is what parks and recreation spaces are for - to contribute to the health and wellness of all people that visit.

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