Lions Pride Park Brings Community Alive

Great public spaces draw people together, bring communities alive, generate pride and a sense of belonging, they foster connections and create opportunities. Lions Pride Park in Chalfont, Pennsylvania has managed all of this while breathing new life into a disused space. The popular outdoor space has even been named one of 2021’s Great Places in Pennsylvania by the American Planning Association’s Pennsylvania Chapter in the category of ‘Great Public Spaces’.

From conception to completion, community participation has been vital. Created from a shared vision of the local Lions Club, Warrington Township, and local school students, the park is a model of accessibility and intergenerational use that is exciting, attractive, and engaging for people of all ages and abilities.

“The grand opening of Lions Pride Park is the culmination of our community coming together over the past four years to transform our Lions Club vision into a beautiful, noble reality,” said Jim Furlong, campaign chairman. “It is our Lions’ fervent hope that this all-inclusive, multi-generational park will unite peoples of all ages and abilities to enhance the quality of life, foster equality, and enjoy recreation. The Warrington Lions are proud of the park and even prouder of the partnership with Warrington Township and the Warrington community for this spectacular achievement.”

The Township and the Lions Club employed the services of Landscape Architects Viridian Landscape Studio to transform the ideas of local elementary school students and the public through surveys, interviews, and multiple design workshops, to create an exciting accessible public play space unique to Warrington - one that would become a centerpiece of community life for people of all ages and abilities. Passionate about great design, social equity, community building, and leaving a legacy of environmental wellness, Viridian rose to the challenge.

Located on the former site of a day camp, the land is now a place for the community to play and exercise. The focal points of the new park are The Grove and Kids’ Mountain - home to a brand new, unique playground that includes large, long slides that descend from the playground’s mountain top. This area encourages creative free play and physical challenges with climbing towers, swings, bridges, and space for winter sledding. A sensory trail leads to the top of the mountain that is planted with native species and pollinator plants.

Below the mountain sits ‘The Grove,’ which features several sand pits with diggers and rockers, life-size games, and places to relax and socialize with picnic tables and hammocks. There is also an array of visual, audio, tactile, and sensory experiences throughout the Park, including a smartphone app that provides information about the park for blind visitors, and of course, an area for outdoor musical play.

The music area has a mixture of instruments tuned to both pentatonic and diatonic scales to empower both aspiring musicians and those with a little musical knowledge. The grove included Rainbow Sambas, Akadinda, Tubular Bells, Congas, Duo, Cherub, Sansa Rimba and Alto Diatonic Freechimes

Tavis Dockwiller, Principal and Founder of Viridian Landscape Studio, said ‘Not a day goes past that you cannot hear the beautiful sounds of music traveling across the park. The community wanted real musical instruments in the park – not just noisemakers – and the intergenerational play they provide totally supports the ethos behind this playground.’

‘The large-scale outdoor musical instruments fully engage the senses and offer the players opportunities for gross body/motor movements that cross the midline. These inclusive instruments have been very well received, and I understand future programming, performances, and events using the instruments are planned by the Township.’

Roseann Schaaf, an internationally recognized occupational therapy researcher and director of the Jefferson Autism Center of Excellence in Philadelphia, said the park represented a “milestone of community engagement” in Warrington.

"Your community created a space where community members can enjoy outdoors safely and in an environmentally friendly way," Schaaf said.