Friday, June 8, 2012

Clemy What Now?

Aerial view of Clemyjontri, photo from FC Parks website
I had heard friends talk about Clemyjontri Park, but not only could I not pronounce or spell it, I also didn’t know where it was other than the fact that it wasn’t easily accessed by metro or bus. One day I’d get there, I thought. Then a few weeks ago I saw it on a list of the most unusual parks in the world (!) and felt sorely undereducated on the place. My Aunt Anne, who lives in Richmond, drove up for the day last week, and drove the boys and me over to the park in McClean. It's just inside the beltway about two miles. The family who donated the land for Clemyjontri derived the park's name from the initials of their four children, thus the curse of red spellcheck squiggles every time I type it.

The idea for the playground is that kids with and without disabilities can play alongside each other. Instead of ladders to climb up like there are on most playground structures, Clemyjontri has wide ramps connecting sections of the playground to other sections. Some slides are wider. Big chairs with buckles on the swings provide support for kids who need it. There is even a wheelchair swing. The place is huge and colorful. There is an obstacle course and track, fun facts are posted different places, including a sign language alphabet chart. There’s a maze that kids will have fun figuring out. My boys kept calling it a bathroom because you could see under the walls of the maze like bathroom stalls. Gross.

There isn’t grass or mulch in the surrounding grounds, but a plastic, bouncy turf, perfect for wheelchairs or kids who have trouble walking. I saw one boy with braces on his legs crawling around on it. In addition to the sprawling playground, there’s a carousel in the middle, a big covered picnic area, and big bathrooms.

What a terrific idea! This place must have been a blast to design, and I’m sure has been a magical experience for kids who are normally precluded from playing at playgrounds. I highly recommend this place for anyone and everyone. 

The advice I have: do not come on a hot sunny day. There is little shade and the plastic turf does not absorb the sun like mulch or grass. Also allow plenty of time while you're there, so your kids can make the most of it.


Clark at one of the climbing walls

Some of the many sensory stations

Aunt Anne and Cal drive the helicopter.

Coming in for a landing...

Here's an idea of the landscape of the place.

Firefighter Cal

Gears on a wall of the maze

Cal being an astronaut in a giant helmet

Funny mirrors!

The boys loved these little rocker swings.

You can't beat the classic tire swing.

One of the big swing styles

We'll be back for sure!

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