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Federal Way's Family Funland play structure becomes more inclusive | Slideshow

After a couple years of planning, fundraising and hard work, the Family Funland play structure at Steel Lake park was officially re-opened on Wednesday.

The occasion was marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell and the Federal Way City Council, along with Miss Wheelchair America, Jennifer Adams.

“This is truly a historic moment in our city’s history and it’s a great day in Federal Way,” Ferrell said in a short speech before a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the revamped structure. “This is a great event, it’s been years in the making … I’ve been bringing my boy here for the last couple of years and had been thinking It sure will be nice when this gets renovated and redone, and today is that day. It’s absolutely a fantastic day.”

Ferrell thanked many of the community members responsible for the Funland’s renovation, including the Federal Way Rotary Club, which helped raise $54,700 for the project. He also applauded many private donors, such as H. David Kaplan, who helped provide the funds to make the restored play structure a reality.

Ferrell noted the addition of the AbilityWhirl — a first-of-its-kind toy nationwide that allows children in wheelchairs to enjoy a merry-go-round experience — shows the community’s commitment to inclusion.

“The rebuilt and extended Family Funland underscores Federal Way’s strong commitment to ensure that recreational facilities are available to people of all abilities,” he noted. “This is the first of its kind in this country to allow people who are confined to a wheelchair to enjoy that playground feel.”

Federal Way joins a small number of other South King County cities that have demonstrated inclusion, including the city of Auburn, which has Discovery Playground. The Auburn playground that opened in 2010 includes accessible pathways and surfacing, sensory-rich surfaces and activities and play structures configured to support all levels of development.

Adams, who has been confined to a wheelchair her whole life because she was born with partial limbs, said the inclusion of the AbilityWhirl in Federal Way is an act that shows Federal Way, as a community, has an open and welcoming heart for all of its citizens.

“One of the first stories I have is when I went off to kindergarten, the playground was not inclusive,” she said. “I remember coming home and being really discouraged that I couldn’t play on the playground.”

Her mom decided to take her to the playground on a weekend and they figured out how she would be able to play on the structures available to her.

“We figured out how I could get on the Big Toy, and we figured out how I could slide down the fireman’s pole, so she took that time to make sure I had a good play experience,” she said.

On top of that, Adams’s dad built her a playground structure at their home, one which became the place for all the neighborhood kids to come and play at with her.

“Those are some of the inclusive play experiences I had as a kid, and I know that changed my life,” she said. “I know the power of rejection and the power of acceptance. Rejection is something that is powerful and can cause a lot of hurt and pain, but acceptance and inclusion has the power of healing in it. By creating this play structure today that’s inclusive of all children, you are opening the door to the power of inclusion and the power of healing in this community. So, I commend you for that, and I thank you for doing this for this community.”

Steel Lake Park is located at 2410 S. 312th St. in Federal Way.

Photos by Bruce Honda, contributed; Greg Allmain, the Mirror

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