The creation of Friendship Park is one of Carlsbad’s most outstanding success stories. It all began in 2017, when two dedicated Carlsbad residents, Deanna Taylor and Wanda Welch, had the idea of creating a playground that would accommodate children (and parents) with disabilities.
This meant a number of modifications to a regular playground, including a swing set for kids in a wheelchair. It also meant using a different material on the ground (to allow easier access) and a number of minor modifications, such as slides that go all the way to the ground. It also meant that the park would include certain stations to accommodate, for example, children with visual impairment. Deanna and Wanda shared this wonderful idea with a number of individuals, including former Mayor Gary Perkowski and Oran Means, who took a leadership role on the fundraising effort. Numerous private citizens and businesses came together to sponsor the creation of Friendship Park.
At around the same time, Carlsbad was completing its application process to obtain status as an age friendly community- the first in New Mexico. Then retirement director Janell Whitlock submitted Friendship Park as an example of an age friendly effort, and Carlsbad received national recognition.
Today, Carlsbad’s Friendship Park remains one Carlsbad’s most popular playground areas, for all children and parents. There were multiple families at the playground when we visited on Monday, and you very rarely see the park empty. It remains a wonderful story of Carlsbad coming together, and we’ll always be thankful to Wanda and Deanna for their great idea.
We believe it is time for the next phase of this effort to begin. The next plan is to construct a splash pad, located adjacent to the current Friendship Park, which is also designed to accommodate children with disabilities. The concept would be similar to the Friendship Park concept in that the design would be in a way that wheelchairs and walkers, for example, could easily get to different features.
Carlsbad currently has two extremely popular splash pads. One of them is located in the Lake Carlsbad area, but closer to the water park. The other splash pad is located at the sports complex. We’d love to add this third one and continue to accommodate all of our residents.
Where are we now? Much like with Friendship Park, the key challenge at this point is in fundraising. A local committee has formed with the goal of raising the funds to construct this new splash pad that is specifically designed to accommodate children with disabilities.
We’re very excited about this effort, and will keep you up to date on future developments.
Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway