Parents Christian and Mary Kane work for four years to create a state-of-the-art playground, park and sports complex made for children with disabilities.
TOMS RIVER, N.J., June 22, 2022 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Every child deserves a safe, exciting place to play and have fun with their peers with ease. On April 30, 2022, MRC Recreation helped that become a reality for an 11-year-old boy and the children in his New Jersey community when Toms River Field of Dreams opened.
Field of Dreams is a three-acre sports complex in Bey Lea Park in Toms River, New Jersey, and every inch of it is mobility device accessible. It’s a place where people of all ages and abilities can play, socialize and have fun.
Founder Christian Kane says his son was the inspiration for what was originally just a baseball field. Before he turned 2, Gavin Kane was in a car accident where he suffered a traumatic brain injury. The Kanes built a playground for Gavin at their home, but in the community, an inclusive playground was an illusion. They got to dreaming of the perfect inclusive complex. What started as just a baseball field later morphed into an entire complex.
“I was just trying to create a baseball field so that my son could play,” Christian Kane explains. “It was my wife, Mary, who said, ‘We’ve really got to do it right the first time. Gavin isn’t always going to be 7 or 8… he’s going to be 60 or 70 and still need a place to go.'”
MRC built a walking path, pavilions, a moon bounce (trampoline), eight types of swings, inclusive playground equipment, musical instruments, quiet corners, bocce, shuffleboard and basketball courts, zip track, dance arch, and a baseball field.
“Christian and Mary were very honest with us regarding the inclusive playgrounds they had visited in the past,” says Matthew Miller, director of marketing at MRC Recreation. “While accessible, not many of them offered the equal long-term play value that they were looking for. Their vision closely aligned with what we look to do every day as park designers.”
After four years of designing the park and raising the money to build it, Field of Dreams opened in April.
“Our hope is that communities around the country look to Toms River Field of Dreams as a blueprint for integrating accessible parks and play spaces,” Miller said. “While not everyone will have the large footprint that Toms River Field of Dreams had to work with, there are many key components throughout the complex that can be broken out on their own to be installed in smaller areas.”
The Kanes hope more communities will see the impact of Toms River Field of Dreams and start making smaller changes in their play areas.
“When you really do go see it in person, words aren’t able to explain it,” Kane said. “We did [this] because we knew if we could build one of these, people could take bits and pieces from it. We were redefining the word ‘inclusion.’ Teaching the word ‘inclusion,’ and then, instead of putting it to words, really putting it into action.”
You can learn more about this project in MRC’s case study about the project here.
MRC is a park and playground equipment design firm and supplier that has been the leader in the park and playground equipment industry for more than 40 years. With a full line of outdoor equipment including GameTime playgrounds, splash pads, various safety surfacing options, outdoor fitness equipment, site amenities, bleachers and custom metal furnishings, we are a true one-stop-shop for all things outdoors.
Matt Miller, MRC Recreation, 1 800-922-0070 Ext: 1049, [email protected]
SOURCE MRC Recreation