At MRC Recreation, our mission is to create play spaces that bring joy to every child. As a leader in the inclusive playground industry, we understand the importance of designing parks that are accessible to all children, including those with disabilities.

With Jake's Law in New Jersey, this commitment to inclusivity has become not just a moral imperative but also a legal one. Here’s a brief overview of the law, our dedication to inclusivity, and how we can work together to create a truly accessible play space.

Understanding Jake's Law

Jake’s Law incentivizes the construction of inclusive playgrounds for children and adults with disabilities, setting New Jersey at the forefront of a national movement for inclusivity. The law was enacted in honor of Jake Cummings-Nasto, a boy who passed away due to complications of heart surgery at two-and-a-half years old. He was born with hypoplastic heart syndrome, and the park was his favorite place for physical therapy. New Jersey seeks to provide children with disabilities inclusive playgrounds in every county of the state.

There are nine requirements to meet Jake’s Law:

  1. Accessible parking
  2. Accessible routes of access to the playground and related facilities
  3. Unitary safety surfacing
  4. Accessible bathroom facilities
  5. Shade (minimum of 20% of the square footage of the unitary surface and equipment is shaded by natural or other means)
  6. Fencing
  7. Inclusive play equipment
  8. Quiet play areas
  9. Ramps & transfer points

The 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design

We are dedicated to helping you design playgrounds and parks that not only meet but exceed the standards set by Jake's Law. Our approach involves a blend of innovative design, quality equipment, and a deep understanding of what makes a playground truly inclusive.

In our commitment to excellence, we have partnered with GameTime, a leader in playground equipment manufacturing, and PlayCore, with their CORE Center for Outreach, Research, and Education. CORE developed the 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design in partnership with the Utah State University Center for Persons with Disabilities:

  1. Be Fair: This principle ensures equal opportunities for all children to participate in play activities.
  2. Be Included: Inclusion in play means providing a variety of play experiences for children of all abilities.
  3. Be Smart: Designing playgrounds that are not only fun but also promote learning and development.
  4. Be Independent: Encouraging independence in play, empowering children to explore and engage at their own pace.
  5. Be Safe: Safety is paramount in playground design, ensuring a secure environment for all children.
  6. Be Active: Promoting physical activity and engagement for children of various abilities.
  7. Be Comfortable: Creating a comfortable environment for children and their families, including accessibility considerations.

Our team at MRC Recreation is skilled in incorporating these principles into our playground designs. We offer personalized consultations to understand your specific needs and the unique characteristics of your community. From the initial design phase to installation, we ensure that every aspect of the playground meets the inclusive standards set by Jake's Law.

Putting the Principles into Practice

Not only does CORE work with universities like Utah State to develop standards like the 7 Principles, but they also use research to provide reporting on your unique area and indicators of a vital community. CORE leads the National Demonstration Site (NDS) Network to raise national awareness, recognize projects of excellence, and help you to demonstrate the positive impact you’re making on your community at large.

By creating a playground design that uses the 7 Principles and qualifies as an NDS, you will be nationally recognized and receive one-of-a-kind data services and site-specific reports and outcomes of your site. Not only will this help demonstrate the impact of your commitment to your community, but allow you to continually advocate for community health and wellness.

An Inclusive Case Study

We’ve had the pleasure of being a part of some incredible inclusive concepts in our 40+ years in the industry. Recently completed, The Toms River Field of Dreams Sports Complex is a multi-faceted mecca of inclusive play. It features an accessible baseball field, mini-golf course, basketball & bocce courts, a community garden and quiet space, and a space-themed playground.

The core element of the Field of Dreams playground is a moon-bounce, complete with poured rubber pathways leading up to an accessible trampoline, and routes onto the ramped play structure. It is surrounded by outdoor musical instruments, every swing you could imagine, a dance-and-play arch, and more.

This project was born due to one family’s love for their son. Gavin Kane was only two years old when he was in a car accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. His parents, Mary and Christian Kane, felt the call to bring the Field of Dreams to life for their son and so many others within their community and New Jersey at large. It was an honor to bring their vision to life.

Let’s Get Started on Your Community’s Inclusive Playground

Designing an inclusive playground is more than just meeting legal requirements; it's about creating a space where every child feels valued and has the freedom to play and explore. We are proud to be at the forefront of this important work, ensuring that playgrounds across New Jersey are inclusive, safe, and enjoyable for all children.

Ready to start your journey towards creating an inclusive playground that meets Jake's Law? Contact us at MRC Recreation today!