Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Cherie Graves


Title: Rural Community Park Accessibility

Background: Play is a primary occupation for children and is critical for development (Yogman et al., 2018). School readiness and relationships with others can be impacted when opportunity for play is limited. Play also benefits adults by reestablishing their passion for activities and reducing stress responses to everyday events (Yogman et al., 2018). Lynch et al. (2019) found that when playgrounds were not accessible, children and parents with disabilities felt odd and experienced increased stress due to limited opportunities. It is important for children and their families to have access to accessible parks and spaces for play.

Purpose: The purpose of this project was to develop a guide and provide recommendations for park board members to assist in ensuring accessibility at parks throughout a rural county in Minnesota (MN).

Methodology: An extensive literature review was conducted to better understand accessibility and what may be needed to increase accessibility throughout rural parks. Various databases and resources were utilized including, but not limited to, CINAHL Complete, State of MN, government and community of Isanti County resources and experts in the field. The Ecology of Human Performance (EHP) model (Dunn 2017; Dunn et al., 1994) was used to guide the development of the product. EHP is an occupational therapy model that defines interactions between the person, context, and task, and is used by interprofessional teams.

Results: Throughout the literature review, main concepts that arose include benefits and barriers to accessibility, importance of community values, possible accessibility modifications, and possible funding sources. Overall, it was found that access to accessible parks is valuable for development, relationships, well-being, and health (P&TC, 2018; Petrunoff et al., 2021; Xie et al., 2018; Yogman et al., 2018). Based on information gathered, a quick access guide and recommendations for increased accessibility were developed to provide to the agency.

Conclusion: Availability of accessible parks and spaces can have many benefits, however, there can be many barriers to accessibility, such as time and funding. The quick access guide can assist in a more efficient way of finding and ensuring regulations are being met throughout the parks. This gives the opportunity to improve accessibility and the experience of park goers.