In 1993, Kristin Holcombe and Helen Rittelmeyer, then ages 7 and 6, had the idea to create a playground in Cary that would be comfortable, inviting, and fun for their younger sisters who had special needs. Their dream became a reality when Cary began to design the playground in collaboration with Robin Moore, an architect and professor at the Natural Learning Initiative (NLI), a research and professional development unit at the College of Design at NC State University. The non-profit Kids Together, Inc. officially formed in 1995 to support the playground project through fundraising and awareness campaigns.
Innovations and Improvements
As imagined by the girls, Kids Together Playground features diverse play settings; it meets individual and developmental needs and fulfills preferences of learning styles, personality types, friendship patterns, and culture. The playground’s focus on universal design ensures accessibility for families and children with special needs. Kids Together Playground integrates manufactured play equipment and the living landscape, including nature such as flowers, plants, trees, surface materials, and animals.
The park manages to remain contained while still giving children a sense of freedom. Parents are able to
supervise their children from afar, letting them climb and explore independently. The inclusion of natural elements
and the flow of the playground ensure that children and families do not feel trapped or fenced in.
“The first parking lot is usually full. That’s a measure of
how busy the park usually is. Regardless of the age and stage that your kids are
at, all children can engage with the playground.” —Rebecca Jackson, Kids Together, Inc. Board Member