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Established in the 1960s, Henry Horton State Park spans an expansive 1,500 acres, providing a diverse range of recreational activities such as fishing, golfing, and camping.

The park has long been a popular destination. However, despite the availability of various recreational areas, there was a noticeable absence of inclusivity in play spaces. Recognizing this gap, the local park rangers took proactive measures to address the issue by envisioning and implementing an all-inclusive playspace.

This initiative aimed not only to enhance the overall experience for visitors but also to ensure that individuals of all abilities could enjoy the recreational offerings in a welcoming and inclusive play environment.

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Henry Horton State Park  - Chapel Hill, TN
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Spanning 1,500 acres, Henry Horton State Park attracts more than 700,000 annual visitors. Recognizing the need for inclusivity, park rangers and the team embarked on creating a new, fully inclusive, and educationally enriching playground.
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The new inclusive play space accommodates children ages 2-5 or 5-12. The play structure includes ramps, universally-designed equipment, and a soft rubber safety surface. The play area also includes a discovery trail and experiential education pods, aiming to teach children about local wildlife and the park's history. These interactive displays not only make learning fun but also stimulate curiosity and creativity.

The Result

The new play space boasts features like ramp access, universally-designed equipment, and a cushioned rubber safety surface. Going beyond conventional play areas, the project introduces a captivating discovery trail and immersive education pods, designed to enlighten children about the wonders of local wildlife and the rich history of the park. 

Along this educational journey, children encounter an erosion table, interactive elements illustrating the lifecycle of a frog, and a charming small gristmill, contributing to a holistic and engaging learning experience outdoors. This specific project goes beyond being just a playspace; it now serves as a community hub by incorporating picnic areas, shade-covered spots, and gathering areas encouraging friends, family, and neighbors to come together and enjoy this beautiful inclusive park. Through this thoughtful design and careful consideration of educational, environmental, and community aspects, the new play space aims to be a model for future projects, demonstrating how public spaces can be both entertaining and enriching for children and their families. 

Click here to learn more about this project.

The Impact

Prioritizing and celebrating the nature and biodiversity in the region was a top priority in this inclusive playground design. In addition to improving the accessibility of the park, the project features a discovery trail and several experiential education pods designed to teach children about area wildlife and the history of the park. 

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Lasting Impact

The playground has become a highlight of the community, and visitors come from many towns away to visit the space. It’s a perfect addition to the resources within Henry Horton State Park and provides a wonderful, accessible play space that can’t be found anywhere in this region of Tennessee.”

Ryan Jenkins
Park Manager at Henry Horton State Park 
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