An inclusive playground for all families.
1 in 7 children can't play in traditionally-designed playgrounds.
For keiki and kupuna to enjoy together.
Hawai'i’s first inclusive playground concept, open and free to the public.
Designed by local children, for all children.
Designed in collaboration with over 450 elementary school students.
She is a 9 year old girl who has a zest for life despite her physical limitations. She has cerebral palsy and gets around in a wheelchair. When she first moved to Hawaii in 2012 we wanted to find a park where she could swing and play with others. At that time she was small enough to still be able to fit into a baby swing. She just loved it! However there were only two parks on the entire island that even had those types of baby swings. As she grew bigger playtime in parks was no longer a part of our life. She was excluded.
For children, play is important work.
- Play enables children to interact and master the world around them.
- Play fosters development of physical, cognitive and emotional strength.
- Play builds healthy bodies, important in combating obesity.
- Play helps children grow relationships and confidence.
- Play is critical to healthy brain development for all children.
Our goal is to create a place where all can play and no one is excluded.
Pa‘ani Kakou is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization established in 2018 to bring an inclusive playground to life in Honolulu. The playground is the result of a public-private partnership funded entirely by donations and support from community members and local companies who have committed their time and talents to the project. Pa‘ani Kakou is fortunate to have many generous community members and local companies who have already committed to donating their time and talents to the project.
The proposed site for a one-acre inclusive playground facility, specifically designed and built for children of all abilities, has been moved to Kaka‘ako Makai Gateway Park, adjacent to the Children’s Discovery Center. The playground was originally proposed as part of the new Ala Moana Park Master Plan.
“We’re looking forward to bringing this vital community project to reality,” said Tiffany Vara, Paani Kakou Executive Director. “This will be O‘ahu’s first inclusive playground for all children of all abilities, including the 1 in 7 children who today who don’t have a playground designed with their needs in mind.”
In addition, the group is committed to raising funds so that a new fully ADA-compliant family bathroom could be added to the plans for Ala Moana Park. Such a facility would include room for a wheelchair and two people, an adult-sized changing table, toilet and sink.
The new Kaka‘ako location will accommodate zones for active and quiet play, ADA-compliant family bathroom facilities with adult-sized changing tables, and a concession operation. A perimeter fence, park ranger office and HPD comfort station are also included for safety and security. Admission to the playground will be free.
Funding for construction of the new playground and restrooms will be raised by Pa‘ani Kakou through a planned public-private partnership (P-3) arrangement with the City.
“We’ve worked hard to find consensus on the most appropriate location for the playground, and we appreciate everyone who has come to the table to make this happen,” said Alana Kobayashi Pakkala, Pa‘ani Kakou board member.
Announcement of the new plans has received positive reaction from community groups and the city administration.
"Malama Moana is in support of the playground being moved to the Kaka'ako Makai Gateway Park,” said Audrey Lee of Malama Moana. “We feel the location selected would have more accessibility for families and complements the Children's Discovery Center as well. The proposed ADA compliant family bathroom at Ala Moana Beach Park would be a welcome addition for families with special needs and would allow more inclusivity at the Park."
“Save Ala Moana Beach Park Hui is pleased that Pa`ani Kakou has chosen to move their inclusive playground from Ala Moana Beach Park to Kaka`ako and is welcoming public input to the process,” said Char Chun-Lum of Save Ala Moana Beach Park Hui. “Next to the Children's Discovery Center, the new playground will be an important feature in the revitalization of Kaka`ako Park – a ‘win-win’ situation for families who will have two great parks to enjoy with their children.”
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell commented: “It is great news that these community groups have worked together to reach a compromise on the inclusive playground. I want to congratulate them for their efforts and we look forward to working with them to achieve success. We need more facilities that enable those with disabilities to access and enjoy our city parks, starting with the playground at Kakaako Gateway Makai Park and an inclusive restroom facility at Ala Moana Regional Park.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Will the playground be open to the public?
Yes, it will be free and open to all families using the playground for its intended purpose according to posted rules during hours of operation.
Who is funding this project?
Design and construction of the playground is being done with donations from the community. No taxpayer money will be used. When completed, it will be gifted from Pa'ani Kakou to the City & County of Honolulu.
Are there other inclusive playgrounds in Hawai'i?
Sadly, no. At this time, there are none in Hawai'i. The need to build an inclusive playground has been identified for a long time in the community.
How will security be addressed?
The playground will operate under special rules, similar to the nearby tennis courts. Park Rangers and the Honolulu Police Department will help to ensure the playground is being used for its intended purpose.
How will long-term maintenance be addressed?
Restrooms will be cleaned hourly and locked off when the playground is not open. Pa'ani Kakou may also supplement ongoing maintenance and security efforts.
What will the design be like?
Pa'ani Kakou has worked to ensure that the playground is uniquely designed for Hawai'i. This includes partnering with the Polynesian Voyaging Society and local children in the design process.