The country’s first completely ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) accessible water park is slated to open summer 2022 at Murphy Aquatic Park, located in Avon, Washington Township, Indiana.
The project began in 2019 with the purchase of more than 35 acres, which was to be developed into a water park with a large focus on inclusivity.
According to Lora Helmick, the park’s director, every feature in the park both inside and outside the aquatic facility is designed to be ADA accessible.
“About four years ago I heard a keynote speaker at an Indiana Park and Recreation conference talking about all the activities that could be provided and ways to accommodate all needs,” Helmick said. “We’ve been offering sensory type programming for parents and children for several years and really wanted an inclusive water park where everyone could come and play together.”
The planning process began with focus groups that included the parents of children with special needs, and Helmick said they provided tremendous insight.
They wanted a place where parents could take all of their children to one recreational space where all of their children could participate.
With 48 water features in the central play area, the park features extra-wide ramps and turn areas, as well as three slides that are accessible from the lower deck.
“We really pushed the designers and architects to create something for all children. Every body of water is zero-depth entry, and everything is wheelchair accessible,” Helmick said. “We had an anonymous doner fund water wheelchairs for us, so you can actually get right in the water and play in the activities. We have a lot of features that spray on the inside of the water playground including water cannons at different levels, so all children can access them and play together.”
There are also shaded areas for those who can’t be in the sun for long, as well as wheelchair swings and a chair zipline.
“We’re hoping with this push toward inclusivity in water, prompts others to think of inclusive features in their parks in the future,” Helmick said. “We had three public input meetings and had some really good reception and positive feedback. We’re excited to bring this to Avon.”
Murphy Aquatic Park, map view Summer 2022.