New playground equipment has been installed at Ringhaver Park on Jacksonville's Westside. l Kim Clontz, Friends of Jax Playgrounds.New playground equipment has been installed at Ringhaver Park on Jacksonville's Westside. l Kim Clontz, Friends of Jax Playgrounds.
New playground equipment has been installed at Ringhaver Park on Jacksonville's Westside. l Kim Clontz, Friends of Jax Playgrounds.

New Ringhaver playground embraces all children

Published on March 1, 2024 at 4:38 pm

A new playground opened on Jacksonville’s Westside this week that is designed to make it easier for children with ability differences to get outside and have fun with other children.

Kim Clontz is the founder of Friends of Jax Playgrounds. Her organization helps to improve playgrounds around the city by helping to bring components and constituents together to make it happen. She said the playground at Ringhaver Park closed to the public in 2019 after it flooded from the nearby Ortega River.

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Clontz said when the city was redesigning this playground, she saw an opportunity to make the space more inclusive for children with limited abilities. She said her organization proposed putting in rubberized flooring along the bottom of the playground.

“The original plan was for [the city of Jacksonville] to have playground equipment, but then a wood fiber kind of mulch at the base. That, you know, is ADA-compliant. Somebody could, with a walker, or wheelchair, go over the mulch, but it is certainly not friendly,” Clontz said.

The ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in many areas of public life and areas open to the general public.

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She also said the rubberized flooring makes it safer for children at the park since potentially dangerous objects can be spotted more easily.

The playground has two different areas for different ages. There will be one area designed for 2- to 5-year-olds and another for 5- to 12-year-olds that will have similar activities like swing sets and slides.

Clontz said the areas have something for all children. There is a 30-foot tall slide, the tallest in Jacksonville, and activities closer to the ground for children who can’t climb.

She said it’s all about bringing children together from all backgrounds to play and grow.

“Every child will be impacted because this is the only playground of its type on the Westside,” Clontz said.

Having children play outside is what Clontz said led her to start the organization Friends of Jax Playgrounds.

“We can get these children out of a stagnant situation that they’re in and back on to playgrounds that really engage them and that’s the key. You’ve got to build something that the kids want to come to or they’re just going to stay home,” Clontz said.

The renovations at the playground at Ringhaver Park cost around $700,000. Clontz said her organization put in around $200,000, and the city put in the rest.

The new park is open during daylight hours.


author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 Steven Ponson has six years of experience covering news in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida. Prior to arriving on the First Coast, Steven also worked in radio in Orlando. He attended the University of Central Florida where he earned a degree in radio and television. Steven has been a reporter, producer, anchor and board operator. Outside of work, Steven loves to watch sports, cook delicious cajun food (as any good Louisiana native does) and spend time outdoors.
author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 Steven Ponson has six years of experience covering news in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida. Prior to arriving on the First Coast, Steven also worked in radio in Orlando. He attended the University of Central Florida where he earned a degree in radio and television. Steven has been a reporter, producer, anchor and board operator. Outside of work, Steven loves to watch sports, cook delicious cajun food (as any good Louisiana native does) and spend time outdoors.

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