What’s an Inclusive Playground? :: Cottonwood Park in Richardson


The buzz has been going in North Dallas & Richardson for quite some time about the new “all inclusive” playground that was going to be replacing one of Richardson’s larger playgrounds at Cottonwood Park. 

While the previous playground was friendly for most ages & stages, it was missing some important elements that make a parents’ must have list for parks. One of the biggest of these was the lack of fencing between the playground and the beautiful creek located near the bottom of the hill. 

While many children may not notice it from ground level, all it would take was for a duck or two to come in for a swift landing. Like an airplane finding its runway, you’d watch the eyes of a toddler follow that duck straight down to the water and off they’d go to follow — off the playground, straight down the hill to an open pond. 

Thankfully, that’s a memory I now get to keep in the vault, as the City of Richardson & Richardson East Rotary Club not only solved this safety issue but improved the playground 10x over. 

Cottonwood Park :: The New Inclusive Playground

At a surprisingly quick pace, Richardson demolished the old playground and less than 6 months later opened the new Ann Eisemann Inclusive Playground. Designed for ALL children in mind (ages & abilities), the new playground features: 

Poured Rubber Surfacing

The moment you walk into the FENCED in space, you immediately notice you’re no longer walking on concrete. This colorful pebble-looking surface is soft and almost spongy.

WARNING: It does still absorb heat, so if you have a crawler or early walker, watch where they put their hands and barefeet. Stick to the shaded areas. 

ADA Compliant Structures

Throughout the entire play structure — which is broken in 3 parts for various age-appropriate groups — wheelchair accessibility was kept in mind; from the ramps leading up into the structures to the sidewalk access into the playground. It provides an easy way for children with all abilities to play safely without having to resort to a lower age structure. 

Sensory Play

All around the playground, you’ll find so many ways in which a child’s senses can be explored. There are musical instruments and echo tubes, wing-like sun catchers casting beautiful, colorful shadows all across the ground, and even uniquely textured slides that bump and roll as you move your way down. 

Parent-Friendly Amenities

Of course, the best part of the whole playground are the check-list items that make the whole experience so much easier!

The restrooms are located within 10 feet of the playground entrance. They’re wide and stroller friendly and include changing stations. 

The entire playground is fenced in with entrances and exits disguised to a child’s eye. As a nice bonus, all gates are equipped with child-proof handles out of reach of most young children. (Even my 6-year-old couldn’t open the fence!) 

As a mom of 4 boys, I felt completely comfortable finding one of the many shady spots to sit and call “base” while I watched ALL of my kids find a way to play. It is incredibly rare to find a place outside of my home I can feel comfortable taking all 4 of my children and know they’re having fun and playing safely. 

Richardson did such a GREAT job with this park, it’s now been designated as a National Demonstration Site. It will now be used as an example for parks across the city, state, and country who also wish to create inclusive recreation spaces. 

Eisemann Inclusive Playground
at Cottonwood Park

1301 W Belt Line Rd
Richardson, Texas 75080


Richardson isn’t the only inclusive park in DFW! Here’s a list of other parks that may be near you with similar inclusive features: 

Flag Pole Hill Park Playground –  8015 Doran Circle, Dallas 75201

Hope Park – 8000 McKinney Rd, Frisco 75034

Jack Carter Playground – 2800 Maumelle Dr, Plano 75023

Bonnie Wenk Park – 2996 Virginia Pkwy, McKinney 75071
{Opening June 15, 2019}


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