Therapy and community play area: Bring it to life!

“Let’s go play!” This simple phrase brings joy to so many. But for children with special needs, play areas can be lonely places.

The new Salem Health therapy and community play area will be a place where people of all abilities can come together in a safe environment that welcomes everyone.

Planned to open in 2016, the wheelchair-friendly play area will enhance physical, sensory, emotional, behavioral and social skills for children and adults of all abilities—including patients of the Salem Health Rehabilitation Center.

You have an opportunity to make a difference in many lives—and that difference is through play!

Please give. Give a child a great memory, a mom and dad a place for family smiles, and an older adult a place to learn to use a walker. 

To learn more, contact the Salem Health Foundation at 503-561-5576 or

Sponsorship opportunities

Sound tubes

These sound tubes are an outlet for language development, providing a way for children to work on speech intelligibility, expressiveness, auditory processing, interactive play and noise tolerance.

Sponsored—thank you!


Girl in playground

Sensory wall

Breaking down barriers is what the therapy and community play area is all about, and its sensory features do just that.

The sensory wall is a prize of tactile stimulation for those with low vision or those practicing eye skills. Its variety of textures encourage multi-sensory processing and sensory tolerance.

Sponsored—thank you!



The xylophone encourages sharing and is a wonderful play opportunity for those with low vision. It also helps with eye-hand coordination, timing and rhythm, noise tolerance and problem solving.

Sponsored—thank you!


Boulder scramble

For kids who like more physical stimulation, the boulder scramble provides just the right amount of challenge. Whether they know it or not, the children hopping from one boulder to the next are putting their balance, motor coordination and strength to the test. Play on!

Sponsored—thank you!


Balance pods

The balance pods are just the things to get kids, and adults, started off on the right track. People of all ages can see how coordinated they really are by balancing on one foot, going from pod to pod, imagining they are leaping across a river or cliff.

Sponsored—thank you!


Group spinner

The group spinner is a merry-go-round that anyone can enjoy.

Children can play alongside their siblings or friends as they see the world go round!

Sponsored—thank you!



Whatever a child’s ability, there is a seat for them on the We-Saw. While playing together, children are developing their individual core and grip strength, balance reactions and timing and rhythm.

Sponsored—thank you!



Traditional, bucket and harness swings

Swings stimulate the vestibular system helping body awareness and alerting our listening system. They are excellent for developing core and grip strength and trunk balance. The harness swing provides safety and support and the bucket swing is friendly for people of all abilities.

Sponsored—thank you!


Personal spinners

If it is whirling and twirling that kids desire, they can get their “dizzy” on with a personal spinner. These individual spinners will stimulate vestibular systems with balance and movement, while kids share hair-raising smiles with new friends.

Sponsored—thank you!


Interactive water feature

Occupational therapist Leslie Dobkins is as excited about this water feature as the kids will be.

“This equipment encourages cooperative play because children can’t do it by themselves. They will pump water and take turns. It will inspire kids with ADHD and autism to communicate and share while having fun.”

It will promote:

• Accessibility: Wheelchairs can fit under the trough.

• Tolerance: May help those with water aversion.

• Social development: Supports interactive and imaginative play.

• Problem solving: Creates cause and effect scenarios.

Sponsorship opportunity: $50,000


Play mound and slide

For physical therapist Trent Tompkins, the slide is a valuable tool for therapy and interactive play.

“The slide is accessible to kids in walkers and wheelchairs and to all ages, shapes and sizes,” said Tompkins. “Parents don’t have worry about their child climbing stairs to get to the slide. From a therapy perspective, kids can work hard wheeling or walking up one of the variety of slopes and have a wonderful reward of going down the slide with a smile on their face!”

“You’ll see children climbing the cushioned, artificial grass hill on each side of the slide and most of all, you’ll witness the feeling of childhood independence. Kids with disabilities can go on the same slide their brothers and sisters can go on and have a whole lot of fun.”

Sponsorship opportunity: $50,000



Therapy loop

Visually defining the play area, the therapy loop is equivalent in length to a couple of football fields and accommodates mobility training, gait training and measured distance activities on a variety of slopes.

“The advantage of the therapy loop is the ease in which you can work on mobility in a completely accessible environment,” said Trent Tompkins, physical therapist. “The various levels of difficulty provide a balance of challenge and safety as individuals work toward maximizing their independence.”

Occupational therapist Leslie Dobkins says it will help patients when trying to increase endurance, self-pacing and incorporating energy conservation principles. It also provides core strengthening (when walking uphill), balance and safety training.

Sponsored—thank you!


Geoball climber

The Geoball climber is the central focal point for the therapy and community play area and an opportunity for those with varying abilities to play together. Tackling this climbing web of fun takes motor planning, gross motor coordination, strength and balance.

The sky is the limit!

Occupational therapist Leslie Dobkins says the Geoball benefits to her patients may include:

• Arm and grip strength.

• Tolerance for heights (when treating gravitational insecurity).

• Problem solving.

• General body awareness.

“The Geoball provides high motivation to work on strengthening and coordination activities so that kids can be more independent at play,” said Trent Tompkins, physical therapist.

Sponsorship opportunity: $100,000



An architectural rendering of the play area planned for the corner of Church and Mission streets.


Sponsor entire therapy and community play area

Giddiness. Excitement. Celebration. These words describe how a child might feel when you say, “We’re going to the playground!”

This time, though, the play area will be accessible to people of all abilities and available for everyone. No one will be left on the sidelines. Clinicians know that play is important to optimal child development contributing to their cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being.

From the carefully planned landscaping that provides privacy (making it easier for kids with autism to function) to the equipment that promotes movement, sound and cooperative play, this area is designed for kids to learn while having fun.

You can help us make this project come to life.

The therapy and community play area can become “_____________________’s Playground.”

Sponsorship opportunity: $700,000

Visit the construction updates page for information about how the project is progressing.

Help make the playground a reality

To make a donation or learn more, contact the Salem Health Foundation at 503-561-5576 or foundation@