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Building a Playground for All Ages

Safe, accessible outdoor spaces help people of all ages socialize and stay healthy

Grandparents Park, Wichita, Kansas, United States

Wichita, KS. Milken's Best Livable Communities

Photo by Jacque Waite

Grandchildren strike a pose on the opening day of the Grandparents Park in Wichita, Kansas.

Built on two empty, adjacent, city-owned lots in a residential area of Wichita, the Grandparents Park opened for family fun in July 2013 — all because a community assessment, conducted as part of Wichita's then-membership in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, identified that local residents really wanted and would benefit from having such an outdoor space.  

The Details

During the assessment, which was conducted by AARP Kansas and the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, many residents shared that they were the daytime caregivers of their grandchildren.

They spoke about not having a place to walk or play in their neighborhood, other than on old sidewalks in various states of repair. They wished they had easy access to a safe and attractive place where they could spend time outdoors with their grandchildren, get some exercise and socialize with other adults.

"For people to get together and feel included as part of their community, they need a place where they can see one another," says Andrea Bozarth, AARP Kansas associate state director of community outreach. "A park is a perfect location for gathering, socializing and being healthy."

The city of Wichita agreed to convert the empty lots, which were eyesores the city was spending money to maintain, into a half-acre public park. (The lot size is 0.56 acres, which measures out as 280 feet by 100 feet.)

In the first year of the project, the city added landscaping, a fence, sidewalks, walking trails and outdoor exercise equipment that is specifically designed for older adults. Year 2 brought playground equipment for preschoolers, park benches and the unveiling of the Grandparents Park sign. A drinking fountain was installed during the park's third year.

The Costs

The city provided the lots and maintains the park at no cost. Installation of the trails, exercise equipment, drinking fountain, benches, signage and fencing cost about $22,000 and were paid for by AARP Kansas, which funded the project as part of its livable communities work in Wichita. Local businesses contributed money or in-kind goods.

The Results

Grandparents Park is easily accessible from all parts of the neighborhood by foot, bicycle, stroller or car.

In addition to being a place for free play, relaxation and exercise, the park is used for organized special events and activities, such as educational workshops and a multi-week walking program organized by AARP Kansas.

The uniqueness of the park has resulted in positive attention from the Los Angeles Times, the Milken Institute,, Forbes magazine, The Huffington Post, among others.

Published August 2015

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