Toms River Field of Dreams Playground Brings New Park for Kids of All Abilities
Finding an all-inclusive playground is almost impossible, as parents of special needs children know, but the inventive Toms River Field of Dreams Playground is looking to change that. This brand new park, set on three acres of land in Bey Lea Park is already welcoming visitors.
This special Toms River Field of Dreams is the result of two parents on a mission to create a place for special needs kids to play. Read on for more on the backstory of the Toms River Field of Dreams Playground, and find more fun places to play on this list of the best playgrounds in New Jersey.
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Christian and Mary Kane’s son Gavin was just 19-months old when he suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident. The Kane’s soon realized Gavin wouldn’t be able to experience simple childhood joys, like playing on a baseball team like his big brother, Owen. Thanks to the Kane's work in bringing the Toms River Field of Dreams to fruition, now he will.
Gavin's Galaxy is the space-themed, all-inclusive playground at this special park in Toms River.
The main play area at the Toms River Field of Dreams has been dubbed Gavin’s Galaxy and centers around space because of Gavin Kane's love for outer space.
The playground is sure to rocket everyone’s excitement. From swings to slides, a trampoline, and a zipline, Gavin’s Galaxy has a lot of attractions to keep kids engaged.
A padded ground keeps scraped knees at bay, and there are plenty of benches around the perimeter of the park for kids and adults to take a rest when needed.
The baseball field at the Toms River Field of Dreams Playground provides an inclusive space for all abilities to learn the game.
For kids who love sports, the Field of Dreams is an oasis of inclusivity with an all-abilities basketball court, baseball field, and a bocce ball court. There is even a nine-hole mini-golf course that is completely wheelchair accessible. The support of hometown hero Todd Frazier, a former MLB star, helped bring the project to fruition when he signed on as an early sponsor.
For kids who are sensitive to overstimulation, the Toms River Field of Dreams Playground has a Quiet Corner tucked away from all the action in a garden, where kids can go for some solace and downtime.
Non-verbal children can navigate the playground with the help of an illustrated board near its entrance.
Other standout features of the Toms River Field of Dreams Playground include a picture board near its entrance to help non-verbal kids communicate which area of the park they want to explore along with activities they want to try, as well as their feelings. Basic sign language, such as "more" and "all done" are highlighted on the board, too, bringing a sense of understanding to all visitors.
We also loved that paved paths are easily accessible whether you're pushing a stroller or a wheelchair. A locked gate keeps kids contained until parents are ready to leave.
Handicapped parking is plentiful and the ample parking lot is near all the action. There are handicapped-accessible bathrooms on-site, and a large changing station is a nice feature. Near the baseball field, find a large covered pavilion outfitted with picnic tables located next to the Snack Shack, which will be open during major events. Outside food and drink are not allowed, but there are water fountains. Rehabilitative fitness stations are placed throughout the park, including just beyond centerfield.
No matter your interest or ability, the Toms River Field of Dreams is welcoming to all.
How to Visit the Toms River Field of Dreams Playground
Currently, the Toms River Field of Dreams is only open for scheduled events. The site is awaiting its certificate of occupancy, and families will have two ways of utilizing the facilities.
The first is to become a member. Membership to the Toms River Field of Dreams Playground is FREE. To join, families simply need to fill out a registration form on the park’s website. Once the registration is processed, members receive a key fob to enter the complex. Members may use the park’s facilities daily from 8am-8pm.
The Toms River Field of Dreams Playground also offers open hours on Fridays from 3pm-6pm and Saturdays from 2pm-6pm for non-members. Families can come to the park on other occasions by registering for one of its many community events. Some events are FREE while others, like the weekly music enrichment classes, have a nominal fee. Registration is required for all community events and can be completed online at the Toms River Field of Dream’s website.
Photos by the author