The Toms River Field of Dreams Sports Complex is an inspiring example of how a community can band together to create an inclusive and accessible playground for everyone. Located in Toms River, New Jersey, this state-of-the-art facility offers a range of activities designed to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for people with disabilities. 

In this blog post, we'll delve into the inspiration behind the project, the inclusive and accessible features of the playground, and its positive effect on the community.

Project Inspiration 

The journey towards creating the Toms River Field of Dreams began when Gavin Kane, a resident of Toms River, suffered a traumatic brain injury at just 19 months old. As Gavin grew up, his father, Christian Kane, noticed a lack of suitable recreational facilities for his son and others with disabilities in the area to play baseball. 

Inspired by his son's situation, Christian embarked on a mission to create an accessible baseball field that would cater to the needs of children and adults with disabilities. Eventually, the baseball field would evolve into a full-fledged sports complex for everyone to enjoy. 

With unwavering support from the community, local businesses, and the town of Toms River, the dream slowly became a reality. The project was significantly boosted when our team at MRC Recreation, a leading playground equipment provider, was selected to design and construct the complex. We collaborated with the Kanes and after 30+ weeks, we created a facility that not only serves the needs of people with disabilities but also promotes inclusivity, encourages equal play, and fosters strong community ties.

Inclusive and Accessible Playground Features 

The Toms River Field of Dreams Sports Complex boasts a wide array of features designed to ensure an enjoyable and accessible experience for all visitors — baseball fans or not! These include:

    • Poured-in-place rubber safety surfacing: This provides a cushioned, non-slip surface that reduces the risk of injuries and allows easy mobility device maneuvering.
    • The “Moon Bounce”: The core feature of the complex is a specially designed glass fiber-reinforced concrete (GFRC) mound, made to look like a moon. It has two accessible travel routes to get to the top, where there is an accessible circular trampoline that allows everyone, even people using mobility devices, to bounce. 
    • Accessible play structures: The playground offers a range of play structures designed with accessibility in mind, including double-wide ramps and sensory play panels.
    • Yalp Sona Dance and Play Arch: This interactive and inclusive component has several games integrated to target a multigenerational audience.
    • Wheelchair accessible playground swings: The complex has a ride range of swings, like the Expression Swing, to accommodate various mobility devices and allow individuals with disabilities to experience the joy of swinging.
    • Adaptive sports fields: The complex features a custom-designed baseball field (built with synthetic turf), basketball court, and mini golf course, all built with adaptive equipment and surfaces to accommodate various physical and cognitive abilities.
    • Musical instrument components: Music is the universal language, and one that we value highly on the playground. With a wide variety of outdoor instruments to choose from at a comfortable height, everyone can enjoy creating melodies and the freedom of self-expression. 
    • Shaded seating areas: The facility includes ample shaded seating areas for visitors to rest and enjoy a snack in the park.
    • Accessible restrooms: Being able to easily access a restroom while at the park is incredibly important, even more so for families that are caring for a child with disabilities. Our restrooms are fully accessible and equipped with changing tables.

Community Impact

Since its opening, the Toms River Field of Dreams Sports Complex has profoundly impacted the community. It has created a space where people of all abilities can play and interact, breaking down barriers and fostering a sense of togetherness. The complex has also become a destination for families, schools, and organizations, attracting visitors from nearby towns and other states.

In addition to providing recreational opportunities, the project has raised awareness about the importance of inclusivity and accessibility in public spaces. It has inspired other communities to undertake similar projects and is a model for building accessible sports facilities nationwide.

Build Your Inspiring Park or Playground 

The Toms River Field of Dreams Sports Complex is a testament to what a community can achieve when it comes together for a common goal. Its inclusive and accessible features make it a beacon of hope for people with disabilities and a shining example of how public spaces should be designed. The project has not only transformed the lives of its users but has also had a ripple effect, inspiring similar initiatives across the country. 

At MRC, we're proud to have played a role in creating this groundbreaking accessible playground. Our team is passionate about designing and building play spaces that are welcoming to everyone, regardless of their abilities. If you want to create your own inclusive play space, contact us, and let our team help make your dream a reality. And don't forget to watch the inspiring video about the Toms River Field of Dreams Sports Complex here.

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