Ferland Park

I don’t know how I stumbled upon a news article about this park (read it HERE), but I’m happy I did because this park is FULL of all sorts of interesting and innovative equipment and play structures.
There are a few different areas that make up the playground as a whole. There is the older section which has a big-kid and toddler climber; a splash pad area with accessible activity panels; and the brand new fully-fenced and gated play area that according to Saint-Léonard is «spécialement pour les enfants ayant une limitation fonctionnelle ou cognitive, telle que le trouble du spectre de l’autisme».

We started in the sand section because the little one saw the rock wall and wanted to “construct” with his new Mickey Mouse drill. He puttered around, trying to dismantle the climber (to no avail), while I tried out the balance beams, rock-climbing wall, spider web wall, slide, ladders, and monkey bars. If I ever go on the show Survivor and need to swing from monkey bars to win the million dollars, I’ll just be like “Give the money to the other guy.” 
It’s a good climber with lots of ropes and things to climb, but almost completely inaccessible for little guys.
Sooooo, they have their own small climber, which is just past the ride-on dinosaur, and spring-riders. The toddler climber has (steep) stairs, slides, tic-ta-toe wall, ladder, and at ground level is a steering wheel and noise makers. 
In the surrounding sand are big swings, a spinning rope climber, a sky-wheel, and 1 baby swing and an adaptive swing. Personally I would have put the adaptive swing in the new area that’s designed for children with special needs rather than taking away one of the baby swings. And the swing is also on sand, making it difficult for some to reach.

We ventured over to the fenced, but not gated splash pad and had a look at the water features by Waterplay Solutions which includes the 5-spray “Fishin’ Pole”, dumping buckets, a Whale Tail sprayer and a crab fountain. 
There are benches and picnic tables within the enclosure (one of them is wheelchair accessible), and there is also a whole row of ground-level activity panels by Playworld Systems including the Chime Panel, and Magnifying Panel. Children can sit or stand; and touch, bang, and spin. I LOVE ground level things because I can have a “break” for a minute from worrying he’s going to tumble out an open wall, or from hovering around while he tries out a high slide. 

THEN, we walked back to experience the sparkly new play area. A 2014 project by Tessier Récréo-Parc, the playground is inside latch-able gates, and on an accessible-to-everyone rubber base (no sand here!). The play equipment by GameTime is designed for children with autism and/or cognitive/motor challenges and to aid in cognitive and gross motor development. There are four big-kid swings (this is where I would have put the adaptive swing), a spinning turtle seat, and a balance board (that parents were using as a bench since there are no benches). 
The large climber has a safe, but high staircase leading up to the slide. There is also a mountain wall to climb as well as a new-to-us 3-level Splash Climber
The nautical theme carries throughout the structure and at ground level is a spin-the-dial panel where you can then search for the images pictured. We did a whole circuit and started by going up the stairs, down the slide, across the tall metal water reeds, over the clown fish, then across the bubble wall, through the rope ladders, and then started the whole course all over again. 
The rubber base is great, but for even better inclusive and accessible play, ground-level activity panels in this section would be a huge bonus to children who are either unable to climb, or who are restricted to a wheelchair. 

We then went BACK to the splash pad, over to the first set of climbers, checked out the tennis courts and sledding hill, went into the still open in November chalet with bathrooms (and baby changing table!), then AGAIN to the new play area. There’s a lot to do!

I wish we had some splash pad video, but you know….November.

I like that Saint-Léonard listened to the citizens of the community and built a playground that is inclusive for all. Let’s see some other cities follow suit!

Things to note:
-The splash pad hours are 9am to 8pm.
-You can borrow a water-adapted wheelchair at this splash pad (as well as at parc G.‑Garibaldi which we have yet to visit.)

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