The Clubhouse in Upper Saint Claire

Play for all: new inclusive playground opens in South Hills

Swinging on the monkey bars, sliding down the slide, climbing on the jungle gym. To a kid, a playground is a dream world. But for children with disabilities, that world isn’t always within reach.

Upper St. Clair’s new The Clubhouse is aiming to change this. Modeled to resemble the view of Downtown Pittsburgh from PNC Park, the area’s only all-inclusive playground is an incredible sight–and what’s even more impressive is what happens when kids start playing there.

“Children learn not to look at their disabilities, but rather their abilities,” says Mara Marchman, executive director of The Miracle League of South Hills, an organization supporting inclusive baseball for children in the region and the driving force behind this innovative new play space.

In designing The Clubhouse, the Miracle League team conducted focus groups with families of children with disabilities and met with doctors, teachers, physical therapists and occupational therapists. “We wanted to design a setting that would to add to the growth and development of children with varying abilities,” says Marchman. From there, the Miracle League worked with equipment supplier Jeffrey Associates and custom play environment designer Cre8Play to build a truly inclusive and joyful environment.

What makes The Clubhouse inclusive? The playground has ramps for children in wheelchairs, balance beams for those who are working on improving hand-eye coordination, light-up toys and more. It also includes a multitude of features for children with visual impairments, Cochlear implants and walking impairments, as well as educational and musical elements like an interactive piano board. While designed to support children with disabilities, it’s fun for all kids.

“Having a playground where all children can play and be together is vital,” says Marchman. “Children are learning a lesson in empathy and understanding. On the playground, individuals can be seen for their character and not their limitations.”

With the opening of The Clubhouse, the Miracle League is uniting children in ways that could have important implications for Pittsburgh’s future. “We hope that bringing kids together on the playground will be one step in ultimately creating an all-inclusive community,” says Marchman.

The Clubhouse is located adjacent to the Miracle League Field of the South Hills at the Upper St. Clair Community & Recreation Center at 1551 Mayview Road. It is open from dawn to dusk.

Featured photo: Children playing at The Clubhouse in Upper St. Clair. Photo courtesy of The Miracle League of South Hills.