Three Muncie City Parks To Receive New and Accessible Playground Equipment

The proposed design of McCulloch Park, featuring accessible ramps and swing sets. Rendering by Sinclair Recreation, LLC. George Foley Jr., Photo Provided
The proposed design of McCulloch Park, featuring accessible ramps and swing sets. Rendering by Sinclair Recreation, LLC. George Foley Jr., Photo Provided

Muncie Parks Department is investing to improve three local parks: Gilbert, McCulloch and Cowing, with ADA compliance [Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990] at the forefront of the design of each play structure.

Muncie Board of Works approved the improvements Nov. 1, 2023, which include new and accessible playground structures for all children. These improvements come at the courtesy of a Playground Grant from GameTime, a company that offers customers opportunities to apply for matching funds to better their communities with qualifying playground systems. Program Director for Muncie Parks and Recreation, George Foley Jr., said Mayor Dan Ridenour wanted Foley, and Parks Superintendent Carl Malone, to make more of the city’s parks ADA compliant.

Although their budget was tight, Foley and Malone met with representatives at GameTime during state park conferences, who made them aware of a grant that suited their needs. 

After Foley and Malone were awarded the grant, Ridenour was able to approve construction plans for the park.

“We know our parks need to be ADA compliant and accessible to everyone, and so, this is hopefully the start of many other parks that we’re going to [renovate],” Foley said.

Each of the three parks brings something unique to the city, Foley pointed out. Cowing Park is an activity hub, with tennis courts and soccer fields while McCulloch Park is reportedly the most used park in Muncie.  Foley said the McCulloch playground equipment has been there for approximately 50 years. 

Renovations for Gilbert’s pocket park were requested by Gilbert Neighborhood Association’s President, JoAnna Darda. 

“We are very excited about the new playground we'll be receiving in Gilbert Park, and are very appreciative of the Muncie Parks Department for their help and partnership over the years,” she said via email. 

The parks department was eager to help. 

“What made us invest in them was the fact that they came to us,” Foley said.

In October, community members of Harrison County, Indiana, saw just how impactful accessibility playgrounds could be for families.

In the Bowen Family, their youngest son, 16-year-old Max, has been wheelchair-bound since age three and was unable to play with his two older siblings on playgrounds throughout his childhood. Max’s story, published in Madison Courier, served as the inspiration behind the construction of Harrison County’s Possibility Playground.

Seeing the lack of accessible equipment out there only motivated Larry Shickles and his team more to build something big.

“I remember going to playgrounds that they called ADA [compliant], and there would be like a playground with a ramp, a kid could go up the ramp and down the other side of the ramp. But if you were physically challenged, that was all. That was it,” Shickles, Harrison County Parks Superintendent, said. 

The Possibility Playground, which opened Oct. 22, 2023, is now the largest accessibility playground in the state of Indiana.

“It will be life-changing for so many people… I’m excited to see families be together. That, for me, is priceless,” Max’s mother, Keyla Bowen, said.

An accessible see-saw in Possibility Playground at the Harrison County Nature Preserve Jan. 14 in Corydon, Indiana. The playground has multiple accessibility features. Olivia Ground, DN

ADA compliance is becoming the norm.

 Foley said that he is confident he and his team are putting a park near each Muncie community for all to enjoy that is accessible, no matter one’s disabilit(ies) or limitation(s).

Construction on those three neighborhood parks is expected to be finished by spring 2024. offers a wide variety of resources for those wanting to learn more about ADA compliance, from design standards for accessible designs for play structures to a checklist that helps keep existing play structures up to code.

Contact Katherine Hill with comments at .


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