Kansas City Zoo and Variety KC have partnered to bring an all-inclusive exploration area to Kansas City, making this the first all-inclusive playground of its kind at any Zoo nationwide. The playground officially opened to the public on May 4 with the help of KCZoo and Variety KC volunteers as well as Kansas City Royals pitcher Danny Duffy.
Kansas City Zoo wants to set a precedent of inclusion for all kids with the new Variety KC Exploration Play. This nature-focused playground is located in Africa between the painted dog and hippo exhibits and near the Safari Landing stage. Variety KC has partnered with the Kansas City Zoo to ensure that the new area is fully inclusive, allowing children of all abilities to play alongside one another.
The exciting new equipment includes a zip line that has companion harnesses so a parent or partner can accompany a child with special needs. There is an “elephant swing” that is accessible for children with special needs, but accommodates multiple children to encourage engagement among all kids on the swing. Special solid surfacing will allow children in power wheelchairs or using gait walkers to access all areas of the exhibit.Variety KC Exploration Play also offers a low-sensory quiet zone area.
Variety KC Exploration Play’s inclusiveness extends beyond children. This totally accessible and inclusive play destination is also a benefit to grandparents who may be mobility challenged, or for a parent who may be disabled.
“The new Variety KC Exploration Play will help ensure that all of our guests, including those with disabilities, have a positive experience. We want every family that visits the Zoo to be able to make wonderful memories together,” said Randy Wisthoff, executive director/CEO of Kansas City Zoo.
Deborah Wiebrecht, executive director of Variety KC, is excited to partner on this project that will serve so many Zoo guests. “What the Zoo is doing will improve lives here in Kansas City and offer enjoyment to the thousands of families who visit our area and Zoo each year. Variety KC is proud to be a part of this exciting project.”
Variety Kansas City (“Variety KC”) is an organization that advocates for the inclusiveness of children with disabilities within the Kansas City community. Variety KC is a local chapter of International Variety and all money raised in our area stays here. In the past three years, Variety KC has been involved in building two inclusive ball fields, four inclusive playgrounds, launched the first inclusive ice hockey and ice skating programs, and consulted on a number of inclusion-focused projects.