The Urbana Park District and Urbana Parks Foundation are excited to launch a fundraising effort to build the most ambitious and inclusive playground in UPD history.
A History of PrairiePlay
a beloved destination playground at a beloved destination park
For over a quarter of a century, PrairiePlay playground at Meadowbrook Park has been an iconic piece of the Urbana landscape—a true testament of community collaboration. Almost every kid in town knows and loves the “castle park.”
In 1995, an army of community volunteers came together to build an inspiring and imaginative place of wonder for kids from all over the region to come and play. While dedicated care and maintenance from the Urbana Park District has allowed PrairiePlay to last longer than the average playground, it is no longer meeting the needs of today’s youth.
Over the years, trends in playground design have changed, and a new space for Meadowbrook Park is needed to ensure that today’s children also have access to an accessible, inclusive, cutting-edge playground tailored to their developmental needs.
As we give thanks for all PrairiePlay has done to inspire curious and collaborative play for our community’s children let us come together to build a new playground that meets the needs of our community today while planning for tomorrow.
Planning for the Future
the next generation of play
The Urbana Park District led an 8-month intensive community input timeline from October 2021 through June 2022. The input process included four rounds of community surveys to home in on the features people wanted to see in a new playground, along with two virtual public meetings to solicit input.
UPD staff also attended community events and held on-site open houses to display plans and talk with playground visitors about their hopes for a new design at Meadowbrook Park. The UPD planning team also went straight to the kids themselves, engaging with summer camp children directly to find out what they want in a playground.
After a nearly year-long community input process, the UPD Board of Commissioners accepted the new playground master plan design in August 2022. This new master plan is a blend of art, nature, and play—much like Meadowbrook Park itself.
New Playground Design
The goal of the design is to create an inclusive playground experience for kids of all ages and abilities—and their caregivers—with features designed to boost accessibility and inclusion.
Key features anchoring the new design include a 5-12 play structure with net climber, 2-5 tots area, and swings.
Additional play features in the plan include an accessible double zipline, group and independent spinners, a turtle and caterpillar climber, and a musical play area.
Inclusivity was an important consideration in the design with features such as a non-verbal accessibility sign, strategic use of poured-in-place safety surfacing, concrete paths through the playground, and play pieces themselves that are designed for accessibility and inclusion.
Aspects of the design that help to bring in a sense of place include vine tunnels at different entrances to the playground, incorporation of native landscaping, different seating nodes, and trees planted within the playground to create natural shade along with fabric shade sails.
The goal of the design was to create an inclusive playground experience for kids of all ages and abilities—and their caregivers.
How can you help?
We invite you to join us in raising the necessary funds to complete this revitalization project.
There are three easy ways for you to make a donation:
Write a Check
Make your check to Urbana Parks Foundation with a note indicating it’s for the Meadowbrook Park Playground Giving Project and mail it to:
Urbana Parks Foundation, 303 W. University Ave., Urbana, IL 61801
To make a donation online, designated to the Meadowbrook Park Playground Giving Project, please click the button below