First-of-its-kind South Bay play place is fully accessible for wheelchair users

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. — With more than 60 parks in Chula Vista, Mayor Mary Casillas Salas says the park system is the heart of the community, so she and many others were heartbroken when vandals burned down a play structure at Veterans Park in September 2020.

On Thursday afternoon, she and other city leaders gathered at that site to celebrate the unveiling of a new, first-of-its-kind replacement structure — one that will make playtime access equal for all kids.

The city restored the old playground and built a new play structure using GT Wave from a company called GameTime. It’s the industry’s first inclusive net climber, allowing children who use a wheelchair to access the net. That’s done by way of a transfer platform and accessible path leading to a slide.

“We’re so proud to have had the opportunity to get this equipment that is for children of all abilities, so there is no kid that is going to be left behind,” Mayor Salas said.

Most traditional playground structures are built around “post and deck,” which provides a single path of play for the user. Net climbers like the new one allow for the user to create their own path of play, letting them to develop their own risk assessment, improve decision-making and improve body coordination. At its height, a child can stand over 10 feet above the ground on top of the GT Wave, yet with the design of the structure and surfacing, can also be assured serious injury will be avoided.

The structure frame is built of steel and the net is extremely durable, providing many years of fun. Chula Vista is the first city in the nation to install this structure. The total cost of the playground equipment (including structure, surfacing, and swings) was $120,000, funded by the old structure’s insurance claim and Measure P, the city’s half-cent sales tax for infrastructure needs.

Kids gave it rave reviews: “When you get up there, you feel like you’re closer to the ground because of that platform,” 9-year-old Luke Farmer explained. “But when you’re up there, halfway to the top, you feel like you’re on a skyscraper.”

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