Ribbon Cutting, Friday, October 3, 4pm!

Come on down to the playground October 3 at 4pm to celebrate the official opening of Silver Summit: A Playground for Everyone! Kid will help Mayor John Engen with his BIG SCISSORS as we cut the ribbon to open Phase I of the playground!  Enjoy cupcakes, free goodies, and bluegrass with Grandma’s Little Darlings.  Help us thank our amazing local donors and hear local disability advocate, Kylie McKittrick, age 14, speak about her experience helping to design the playground. See you there!!

Construction Underway!


Wow!  We are so thrilled to see the playground coming together after three years of planning and preparation!  Our gratitude to our many sponsors and volunteers is immense, ALL of whom helped us reach our $500K+ fundraising goal.  From major donors like the Morris and Helen Silver Family Foundation and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, to the sweat equity of the Girl Scouts and the Missoula Organization of Realtors – we have been blown away by the overwhelming response of our community to the need for FUN for all children!


Despite a few construction complexities, we are on track for a “soft opening” in August and a ribbon cutting in September!

Get a look at the construction process in this great KPAX feature!



Join the Fun to Make All-Abilities Playground Reality

The Missoulian, July 10, 2013
by Jenny Montgomery

Last fall, a groundbreaking meeting took place in a conference room at Missoula Parks and Recreation. Four children who use wheelchairs gathered at the table with Donna Gaukler, Parks and Recreation director, and Dave Shaw, Parks and Trails Design and Development manager. The kids described in great detail what kind of playground they wanted – and Parks and Recreation listened.Now, thanks to the immense generosity of the Missoula community, Phase I of this spectacular playground will be constructed next June in McCormick Park. A generous challenge grant from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation will match every dollar donated to the playground between now and December 31, doubling our community’s giving power.

More than $350,000 has been raised to date – enough to install rubberized surfacing, an innovative “play mountain” and adaptive play equipment. The project is still raising funds for a sensory nature retreat, stage, musical instruments and gardens. Any of these areas may be “adopted” by an individual or organization.

In-kind donations from our construction and landscaping industries will be vital: boulders, concrete, gravel, plants, fencing and excavation are all needed to bring the playground to life next spring. Our plans also call for an accessible “cabin in the woods” playhouse, which is still to be designed and built. Somehow, we will pull together to get it done. Missoula is that kind of place.

Based on the kids’ input last fall, Shaw of Parks and Recreation designed a playground like none other. At the center of this remarkable plan, a colorful, rubberized “play mountain” rises, resembling Mount Sentinel – complete with an “M.” This beautiful climbing feature offers “many ways to the top”: able-bodied kids can scale a steep rock-climbing wall while, adjacent to them, friends and siblings can power up the mountain in an electric wheelchair, or crawl up with the aid of ropes and climbing holds. A gathering space at the top affords a view from up high – something many kids with motor disabilities never experience in a playground.

Incorporating ideas from kids on the autism spectrum and youth with other disabilities, Shaw and his team envisioned a nature-themed playground designed to meet all children’s needs. At the borders, quiet spaces invite kids with sensory issues to retreat and enjoy tactile play and gardening. A circular stage ringed by boulder seating entices kids of all abilities to act, perform and play beautifully tuned chimes. Fun, fast play equipment provides body support and allows kids to roll-on or transfer from an assistive device. And rubberized surfacing allows kids on wheels to navigate freely, unimpeded by wood chips or sand.

It is hard to believe that not so long ago, children with disabilities were nearly invisible in our communities. They were often consigned to institutions, in part because public spaces were inaccessible. It seems unthinkable that as recently as 1990, a U.S. congressman declared the Americans with Disabilities Act “way beyond the bounds of reason.” That year, dozens of citizens – including 8-year-old Jennifer Keelan – would crawl out of their wheelchairs and up the steps of the U.S. Capitol in a dramatic demand for equality. “I’ll take all night if I have to!” said the second-grade girl. Her battle for a more accessible world was shortly won.

The ADA went on to transform our built environment as well as social attitudes toward disability and difference. I recently spoke to a group of fourth- and fifth-graders at Paxson Elementary, who generously donated $100 to the playground. Because they had friends and schoolmates with disabilities, the children grasped with excitement the importance of a playground where innovative design ensures all kids can play. Their instincts toward fairness and inclusion were right on target, thanks to lessons learned from their differently-abled peers.

Inclusion in schools is becoming the norm, but inclusion on playgrounds takes strong public-private partnerships, due to the high expense of accessible surfacing and other accommodations.

Missoula’s all-abilities playground will be the first large-scale effort of its kind in Montana and a historic step forward for disability equality in our state.

Just as important, it will be a place full of laughter, wonder, exhilaration and the simple joy of being asked, “Wanna play with me?”

Won’t you join the fun?

Reach Jenny Montgomery at [email protected] or visit allabilitiesplayground.org to make a donation or volunteer. Jenny Montgomery chairs the All-Abilities Playground Project and, with her husband Ryan, owns Montgomery Distillery.


A BIG ($150K)THANK YOU to the Helen and Morris Silver Foundation.

We are so excited to announce a very generous donation of $150,000 to the All-Abilities Playground Project from the Helen and Morris Silver Foundation!!!!!

Here is the official press release from Missoula Parks and Recreation:

The Playground Project in McCormick Park

On Thursday, January 17, Mayor John Engen will accept a $150,000 grant from the Morris and Helen Silver Foundation to begin construction of a new, universally-accessible playground in McCormick Park. The public is invited to attend the announcement and celebration afterward.

The Playground Project at McCormick Park includes play equipment for children of all ages and abilities. The new playground features wheelchair-accessible surfacing and adaptive play equipment to bring all children together in play. To design the playground, Parks and Recreation staff met with focus groups of kids using wheelchairs, kids on the autism spectrum and youth with other disabilities.

Parks and Recreation Director Donna Gaukler says the new playground will be an exciting play space for all Missoula children. “It’s vitally important to create inclusive play spaces in our community, where people of all ages and abilities can play together. Playgrounds are where kids are most active, and where they learn creativity and problem-solving. This playground allows all children to gain the developmental and health benefits derived from unstructured play in an inclusive environment.” The new playground expands on the vision of the Bonner Park All-Children’s wheelchair-accessible playground by bringing the latest inclusive play technology to Missoula—including play features for children with sensory, cognitive and multiple disabilities.

Gaukler says the Playground Project at McCormick Park also offers a variety of community benefits. “We’re very excited to be building the first playground of this type in state of Montana, and we expect it will draw visitors from around the region, just as MOBASH Skatepark does. Special amenities in parks and a healthy built environment are important factors in our community’s quality of life and economic vitality. With the addition of the playground to McCormick Park, we’re creating a universally-accessible recreation zone, including Currents Aquatics Center, Silver’s Lagoon, and the Ron MacDonald Riverfront Trail System.”

The project is funded by the $150,000 Silver Foundation grant, a $50,000 capital improvement contribution from the City, and funds raised by the All-Abilities Playground Project, a group of local parents and children committed to bringing inclusive play to Missoula. The total needed to start construction of Phase 1 of the project is $350,000 and the fund balance currently sits at $291,000. “We’re close enough to put the project construction out to bid this spring,” Gaukler says. “To start construction in late summer, we’ll need the community’s help to raise the additional $59,000.” Citizens can donate to the project by visiting www.allabiltiesplayground.org.

Thursday’s celebration will be held at 2:30 p.m. in McCormick Park, 600 Cregg Lane, near the existing playground. Citizens are invited to attend and learn more about the project. A short reception will follow in Currents Aquatics Center. The Silver Foundation is a philanthropic organization created by the Silver family, who donated a portion of the land for McCormick Park to the City in 1937.

For more information on the Playground Project in McCormick Park, visit www.allabilitiesplayground.org or phone Parks and Recreation Director Donna Gaukler at 552-6265.


Thank you again Missoula Community Foundation!

Thank you to the Missoula Community Foundation, for a generous gift of $1715!! In addition to their 2011 gift of $1000, they have been a significant supporter of The Playground Project. We are tremendously grateful!!

Laugh for a Change

Thank you to Laugh for a Change who raised $269 for the playground at their recent comedy show!!! Be sure to catch this hilarious troupe on 2nd Saturdays at the Elbow Room.

News coverage

Thanks to Melina Peck who is part of our Playground Committee for this TV interview with ABC-FOX Montana!  Click here to see it: Melina Peck of the Playground Project Committee tells it like it is! Thank you ABC-FOX for this wonderful piece.

Click here to see it: http://www.abcfoxmontana.com/news/local/Children-of-All-Abilities-to-Have-New-Playground-174630421.html

Wow! What a Night!

WHAT A NIGHT!!! I think we can definitely say Missoula’s first All-Abilities Baseball Game was a HUGE success!!!!!  The kids had a ball, our volunteers were tireless, and the total raised for the playground from All-Abilities Baseball Night was over $51,000 – exceeding our goal!!!! That makes $113,000 total raised for the All-Abilities Playground so far – we are over 40% of the way there!!!!  INCREDIBLE!

Thank you to all the amazing kids, families, coaches, volunteers, mascots, musicians, sponsors and the Missoula Osprey for hosting this event. And of course a big thanks to all the cheering fans who were able to witness just how much fun the kids had.

This morning, the Missoulian published a fantastic FRONT PAGE article of the event and details on our playground project.  You can read it by clicking below!


Kids take to baseball field to raise funds for all-abilities playground


Three More Days until the All-Abilities Baseball Benefit

Three more days until the All-Abilities Baseball Benefit! It’s going to be a night for fun for all ages, hope you can join us! We have raised close to $30,000 in pledges so far. Thanks for all of your support! LET’S PLAY BALL!!!! For more information please click here! http://playgroundproject.dojiggy.com

Registration Open for All-Abilities Baseball Night!

Do you know a child with a disability who would like to play baseball in Osprey Stadium?!  Registration is now open for the All-Abilities Baseball Night benefiting the Playground Project, Thursday, July 26, 4-7:30pm at Ogren Park Allegiance Field.  Come cheer for 48 kids with disabilities as they raise funds by hitting, rounding the bases and scoring!  Kids will be assisted as needed by buddies and coaches.  With music by the Whizpops and Li’l Smokies, special guests, inflatables, games, prizes for top fundraisers and more, this is going to be a night to remember.  A Calm Tent will be staffed for kids who need a break from the excitement.  Visit the Baseball Night Website to register as a participant or sponsor, make a pledge, and learn more.  Slots may fill fast, so let kids know today!

See the FAQ and Participant Info on the site and contact us with further questions.  Big thanks to the Missoula Osprey for their support.  Let’s play ball!!