Building Darrell’s Dream Boundless Playground
Building Darrell’s Dream – Boundless Playground
Click the link to learn more about Darrell Rice and his Dream: Darrell Rice
Dreams really do come true. The Darrell’s Dream Boundless Playground® Complex at Warriors’ Path State Park in Kingsport, Tennessee, is living proof of that. What began as a tiny seed of an idea was fed, nurtured, and cultivated into a unique all-accessible play and educational destination that is delighting people of all ages and attracting thousands to Tennessee’s Most Visited State Park.
It began as a “what if?” A few Members of the Friends of the Park organization wondered aloud, “What if our region had an inclusive play area that encouraged people of ALL abilities to enjoy nature?”
Darrell’s Dream is a one-of-a-kind playground and outdoor classroom in the country and is the only Boundless play structure in a state park in the nation. It offers age-specific and developmentally appropriate play equipment for children of all abilities.
In addition, the complex hosts a special surface that makes it accessible to all, a Lions’ Narnia Braille Trail, an environmental maze with interactive play and learning stations, the Andersen Tree House with interactive exhibits about the environment, a wildflower walk, herb garden,the Palmer Center Foundation Amphitheater and rain gardens.
The most recent additions to the complex occurred in 2012: an amphitheater, rain gardens, and OmniSpin Spinner on the playground. The Palmer Center Foundation Amphitheater is an outdoor terraced area that offers 200 block and grass seats and is designed to accommodate up to 1,000 in adjacent grassy areas. The amphitheater was designed in a natural bowl tree-lined area with the goal to open it up for human use while protecting the environment. For example, the grass used is more sensitive to green space and lessens heat build-up. The site was constructed to allow for better drainage, complete with earthen berms to control existing run-off. An innovative additional protection for the environment was provided by area Master Gardeners who installed adjacent rain gardens. These gardens coupled with the berms help control water flow while greatly enhancing the natural setting.
As you may imagine, purchasing, as well as maintaining specially-designed play equipment can be expensive. For that reason, sections of the play area have been sponsored and named for various businesses and groups. On a recent visit to town for a Lions District Convention, the International President was so impressed with seeing many special need children playing and interacting with their peers he asked how they could help. The Friends of Warriors in an effort to continue to be good stewards of this project continue to evaluate and identify additional needs for its ongoing development. The result, the Lions International in cooperation with the Kingsport Lion’s Club provided the physical and financial resources necessary to add an OmniSpin Spinner to the playground. Opened to the public in July 2012, this rotating playground structure offers children of all abilities, including those who utilize wheelchairs, valuable vestibular sensory stimulation and encourages interactive play, but the children who ride it just think it’s plain fun!
What was originally a sprout of a dream inspired three community leaders, Darrell Rice, Betty DeVinney and Mary Steadman to work to turn the “what if” into a “let’s make this happen.”
But more than what sits on the property is what it offers to people who use it:
Perhaps the most important benefit of the complex is not that it is a dream come true, but rather that it is a place that allows the dreams of others to come true.
Playground Development Phases
The pages and galleries below detail the setup and design of the playground and surrounding projects. It is our hope that other parks nation wide will implement their own boundless playgrounds.
Click any image below to see a slideshow of pictures of the area.