Community Development Block Grant
Success Stories

Shaker Heights, OH - Mayor Patricia S. Mearns

Around-the-World Playground

Completed in 1996, the Around-the-World Playground celebrates the cultural diversity of Shaker Heights residents. Play structures reflect the architecture of Asian, European, African American, South American and Native American cultures. Designed by playground designer Chris Meyer and landscape architect Jim McKnight, the various structures are made of unique materials, including thatch, bamboo, tree limbs and wood shingles. The playground "floor" is a brightly colored rubberized surface usable by people in wheelchairs. The playground received a Merit Award in 1997 from the Ohio Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Over 200 residents and City employees contributed 5,280 hours of volunteer labor to the project. Volunteers with construction experience, including two contractors and an architect, led volunteer teams which included realtors, high school students and alumni, doctors, lawyers, teachers and bankers. City employees, including firefighters, a police officer and a building custodian, and City Council members and the Mayor volunteered their time as well. Volunteers spent several weekends helping to build the structures; they also worked with a concrete artist to create a bench and a cactus sculpture. Local merchants donated refreshments for the volunteers.

The City received two grants which assisted with the playground construction: The Cuyahoga County Department of Development provided $150,000 in CDBG funds, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources provided a $232,000 NatureWorks grant. The City contributed funds to help cover construction and design costs.

Located next to the main branch of the Shaker Heights Public Library, the Around-the-World Playground attracts residents from the entire community. It is the first City playground to be fully accessible to children with disabilities, and it serves the needs of residents with pre-school children who use playgrounds throughout the day, not just after school.

Contact: Theresa Schwarz, Planner, Planning and Development Department, (216) 491-1437

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