Lester Community Park, comprised of two new vibrant playgrounds on either side of Lester Elementary School in Downers Grove, is open for play starting Tuesday, August 18, 2020! These inclusive playgrounds provide equipment that is accessible to children of all abilities and developmental levels.
Both the East and West Sides have artificial turf that is soft to walk on and gives under your feet. There are also communication boards on both sides to encourage independence and inclusion for those who use AAC (augmentative and alternative communication). The recommended ages are 5-12 years old.
It’s important to note that these playgrounds are on the grounds of an elementary school, so it is only open to the public during non-school hours. Starting September 1, 2020. you may enjoy the playgrounds on weekday evenings and weekends.
Lester Community Park East
This playground is the larger of the two and has wide ramp access.
Plenty of opportunities to slide down colorful slides!
It’s nice to have two disc swings to cut down on wait times since they are so popular.
There is also plenty of opportunities to climb with this rock climbing wall pictured below and also a large rope climbing structure on the other side of the playground.
Lester Community Park West
The playground to the West of the school is smaller, but spread out and has a lot of opportunities to climb, traverse, and slide.
Check out these huge banks of swings!
There are also several spinners and a four-seat see-saw.
The Story Behind Lester Community Park
I had the pleasure of meeting two of the key players that made these playgrounds possible: Peg Chaidez, Co-Founder of Dream Build Play Experience (pictured left), and Patty Esslinger, President of Lester Community Playground (pictured right).
Peg’s first project was Owen’s Playground at Hillcrest Elementary School in Downers Grove and is now involved with several new playground builds throughout the suburbs to make them inclusive and accessible to all.
Patty has been involved in the playground planning process for the last four years and led the effort to raise funds and collaborate with families. The committee consisted of ten core volunteers and more than 100 parents, families, and children.
Children were also very active in the process and were called “Kid Heroes”. They held lemonade stands and bake sales throughout the community, and requested their birthday gifts be made to help fund their new playground!
It was a labor of love and it definitely shows. These playgrounds are amazingly fun. Even the school principal, Mrs. Novak, enjoys climbing around! Unfortunately I missed that part, but they sent me a picture to share with everyone.
Lester Community Playground
Lester Elementary School
236 Indianapolis Avenue
Downers Grove, IL 60516
This playground is behind Lester Elementary School, but was built for everyone to enjoy when school is not in session (evenings and weekends during the school year).