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Foundation Donates $4 Million to Create a Highly Inclusive, Adaptable Playground at Midway Plaisance – The First of its Kind in the City of Chicago

CHICAGO, IL — As construction continues on the Obama Presidential Center, today the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners approved an inclusive, adaptable playground that will promote sensory, nature play for children and families at the Midway Plaisance, located near the future Center. The playground – the first of its kind in the City of Chicago – will be created as the result of a $4 million donation from the Obama Foundation as part of its continued commitment to expand park space for the South Side community.

“We are not waiting until the doors of the Center open to begin delivering on the commitments we have made to our community,” said Valerie Jarrett, CEO of the Obama Foundation. “We are thrilled about this new playground, which will offer a unique park experience for children with diverse needs and families who want to gather and play right in their own backyard.”

The 21,000 square-foot playground will be located at the east end of the Midway Plaisance and will include a variety of specialized play features to allow side-by-side play, such as an ADA accessible swing, a slide with a transfer platform for wheelchair users, and sensory nooks, including a mud kitchen and a fragrance garden that provides those with sensory needs respite from the busier areas of the playground.

“We are so excited to partner with the Obama Foundation to bring this incredible new amenity and resource to Jackson Park,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent Rosa Escareño. “The District’s first, fully inclusive playground is designed to meet the needs of diverse users and provide families with a unique experience for children and caregivers that underscores the importance of accessibility and inclusivity in our parks.” 

The playground is the latest commitment to investing in green space and the local community. Today’s announcement follows a $3.6 million gift to the Park District to construct a state-of-the-art Bob Pickens Track and Field, located in Jackson Park. The track and field is used daily by neighboring residents, walking clubs, schools, and community-based athletic teams.


Contact: Courtney D. Williams, [email protected]