JT’s Grommet Island Beach Park and Playground for Every “Body” at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, is the first of its kind in the U.S. The idea came to a local developer, when his son could no longer accompany the family on a day at the beach. The son, who previously spent many years of his life as an avid surfer and beachgoer, is now immobilized with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. His struggle to participate in everyday activities inspired his father to champion the creation of a beach park designed for those challenged with physical disabilities.
Careful consideration not only went into the design of playground amenities, but also the park’s engineering, as a result of the unique environmental challenges of oceanfront development. A 6’ reinforced concrete seawall below grade supports the weight of the playground and prevents undercutting from potential wave action during large storm events. The large tensile shade and shade posts are engineered to withstand hurricane force winds. The play equipment is manufactured utilizing the highest marine-grade materials and coatings to combat the destructive effects of airborne salt and sand.
The playground equipment and amenities are inspired by Josh’s love for surfing and designed with accessibility as top priority. Accessible periscopes provide views to the surf. Raised sand tables bring the fun of building sandcastles up to an accessible height for persons in wheelchairs. The soft play area, designed for children ages 3 to 5, is outfitted with oversized sculptures of dolphins, a wave, and a surfboard where disabled or able-bodied children can pose for a photo while they are “surfing the tube”.