Those of you who have met Dahlia know that she’s pretty much a boundless fount of energy, in nonstop motion, and keeping an eye on her at many outdoor playgrounds can be quite an exhausting feat, especially given how pregnant I currently am. So when my friend described the playground at Elvehjem Elementary to me, I immediately thought it would be right up Dahlia’s alley — and much more relaxing for me.
You see, the Elvehjem playground is a Boundless Playground. Boundless Playgrounds are playgrounds designed to be inclusive of children and adults with mobility and developmental impairments. This isn’t to say that the playground is perfectly 100 percent safe and boring — far from it! I would have to say this is far and away the coolest playground in town. It’s designed largely as a series of ramps, to provide access to kids and parents in wheelchairs. But to kids who aren’t in wheelchairs, it basically amounts to a fun maze. There were plenty of climbing surfaces and walls, but they all seemed perfectly set at angles where I didn’t worry that one misplaced sneaker would send Dahlia careening backwards through the air. The ground surface is soft and pliable, not the gravel or shredded tires you find at most parks. Dahlia was both well-contained and very stimulated.
The parents in Madison are luckier than most to have such a wide variety of great parks, but the Boundless Playground at Elvehjem Elementary is really a step above. Building this playground was really a labor of love for neighborhood families, and it has paid off. Dahlia didn’t want to leave, and I can’t wait to go back.
Elvehjem Elementary is located at 5106 Academy Drive in Madison.