TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee Chair James Beach, that would incentivize counties to build completely inclusive playgrounds for children and adults with disabilities cleared the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee today.
The bill, S-2138, known as “Jakes Law”, would prioritize access to Green Acres funds for the construction by counties of “completely inclusive playgrounds,” as defined by the Department of Community Affairs, in hopes that each county owns and operates at least one inclusive playground.
The bill would require the Department of Community Affairs, in consultation with the Department of Education, to create rules and regulations for the design, installation, inspection and maintenance of the inclusive playgrounds. The rules and regulations would be required to exceed standards established by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and require that park and playground areas are to be visitor friendly to all visitors, regardless of their medical condition, in order to engage in the park and playground experience.
The term “Jake’s Law” refers to Jake’s Place, a $600,000 inclusive, or “boundless” playground in Cherry Hill, created in honor of Jacob Cummings-Nasto. Jake was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and did physical therapy at parks. He passed away at the age of two and a half from complications of heart surgery.
“These playgrounds need to be in every county,” said Senator James Beach (D-Burlington/Camden). “Just go by ‘Jake’s Place’ in Cherry Hill on any weekend and you will see a magical place where children of all backgrounds, ages, and physical abilities are playing together.”
The bill was released from committee with a vote of 5-0, and next heads to the full Senate for further consideration.