January 10, 2022

Rock Hill Miracle Park Becomes First Park in the World Awarded Universal Design Gold Certification through the GUDC

We are excited to share that Miracle Park in Rock Hill, SC has been awarded Universal Design Gold certification from the Global Universal Design Commission, making it the first park in the world to hold this certification.

In the fall of 2019, Winthrop University, the city of Rock Hill, and the Rock Hill Miracle Park team partnered with Progressive Companies to create a master planned community park using the principals of Universal Design (UD). As the UD consultant, Progressive Companies provided education and leadership ensuring that the design implemented best practices for inclusive and accessible design strategies. While grounded in the ADA, the UD process offers far more potential for inclusion by using established guidelines for buildings and spaces to help meet the needs of different populations, including: the elderly, individuals with disabilities, those recovering from injury, and people with hearing and sight challenges.

UD is dedicated to designing spaces where everyone is given what they need to succeed. It is an opportunity to create a space where physical and social barriers are removed to create an environment designed with everyone in mind, striving to achieve full inclusion.

"Miracle Park's goal is accessibility, equity, and the removal of barriers," the park's website reads. "We have looked at the physical and social barriers of other playgrounds and parks and tried to remove them so that people of all ages, abilities, races, and genders can play, work, and hang out TOGETHER without barriers."

This transformative project has had broad buy-in from community partners across the greater York County community, including several businesses, community organizations, and a cross-section of individual residents who have volunteered time and money. The community has been very supportive of this effort with over $4 million having been raised to date. The City of Rock Hill will operate and manage the park through the Parks and Tourism Department.

Phase 1 was completed in Fall of 2021, and consists of the first Miracle Field, a traditional baseball field, an inclusive playground, restrooms, office and concessions building, and an interactive sensory path. The remaining build out of phases 2 and 3 is anticipated to follow within a 2-4 year period and will include a multi-purpose field which can be used for soccer, flag football, kickball, basketball, etc., an adaptive challenge course in partnership with the Carolina Panthers, a golf putting area, a fishing pond, and a retail/café space. Additionally, employment opportunities for individuals of all abilities will be provided throughout the park to further support the inclusive nature of the park's design and mission.   

“The park is about being able to come out and enjoy it no matter what your ability is,” said Principal Ryan Doherty. “People are what make a community special, and the park is really celebrating that.”

See WBTV’s news spot on Miracle Park here, or learn more at miracleparkrockhill.com.

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