Prestonís H.O.P.E. Playground
Preston's H.O.P.E is an extraordinary playground for both able and disabled children.The $3 million playground is FREE and open to the public from 6 am to 10 pm daily. The playground is located at the Mandel JCC, 26001 South Woodland, Beachwood.
Please note: Families are free to bring in food and/or picnic lunches but grilling is not permitted on the grounds of Preston's H.O.P.E.
Preston's H.O.P.E., an acronym for Helping Others Play & Enjoy, is the inspiration of Jackie and Ken Fisher and Stacie Halpern. It is named for Jackie and Ken's son Preston, who was born with a genetic disorder, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which kept him confined to a wheelchair. Preston Fisher passed away in December, 2008 just before his 12th birthday and Preston's H.O.P.E. is a lasting testament to his courage and strength.
This spectacular 60,000 square foot outdoor play environment encourages children that utilize special equipment, such as crutches or wheelchairs, to play alongside other children with or without disabilities.
Inspired by Boundless Playgrounds, a Connecticut-based nonprofit that promotes and supports playgrounds that are accessible for children with and without disabilities, Preston's H.O.P.E is northern Ohio's first fully accessible playground. It's also the newest and easily the most extensive playground of the 100 or so of its kind, in the country.
Imagination Village, the most recognizable and visible element of Preston's H.O.P.E., offers a wondrous place to explore kid-size houses and stores. The two story structures were donated and built by area builders and represent make-believe homes and businesses, including a schoolhouse and hair salon. The second story of the two-story Village is connected by an easily accessible raised walkway. This walkway is just one of many elements that allow wheelchair bound children to reach and view the world from a much higher perch than they normally could do otherwise.
There are a number of features that make Preston's H.O.P.E. accessible and handicapped-friendly, regardless of disability, for both children and adults. In addition to features designed for children that require a wheelchair, for the vision impaired there are auditory elements and play objects in the playground that are labeled in Braille. Other features of the playground include the Play Theatre, with its own performance stage, and the Sand & Water Area, where children can dig for dinosaur fossils. The play areas with swings, tunnels, and slides, with wheelchair-wide access ramps, are appropriate for children from preschool through school age. For more information on programs at The J for individuals with special needs, click here.
Throughout the play area there are several benches and a covered pavilion for parents and grandparents to take refuge from some of Cleveland's hotter days. Accessible restrooms and drinking fountains have also been incorporated into the design. Additionally, when children get hungry, families can grab a quick bite to eat at the kosher SUBWAY at the J, which is also open to the community and located in the lobby of Tthe Mandel JCC, just steps away from the playground.
The Mandel JCC will maintain Preston's H.O.P.E. through an endowment overseen by the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland in conjunction with the JCC and The Preston Fund for SMA Research.
For more information on Preston's H.O.P.E. visit: www.prestonshope.com. For questions about the Mandel JCC and/or Preston's H.O.P.E. please call (216) 831-0700 ext 0.