Team Hickam breaks ground on new all-abilities playground

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Margaret Blice, Staff Sgt. Alan Ricker
  • 15th Wing Public Affairs

The 15th Wing hosted a ceremony to celebrate the groundbreaking on the Hickam Field of Dreams all-abilities playground on March 15, 2024.

The new playground will be the first of its kind on Oahu, featuring structures that can support the weight of children and adults, encouraging parents and caregivers to play alongside children of all physical and cognitive abilities.

“Hickam Field of Dreams is different in that it [will be] an inclusive park with a focus on providing a space for members of all abilities to be able to come together,” explained Master Sgt. Brennen Defazio, former 15th Wing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility representative. “By providing opportunities for children of all abilities to play and learn together, we create a more equitable and compassionate world for future generations.”

The project will feature inclusive elements like parent-and-me swings, wheelchair access points, multilevel slides and a gravity rail zipline structure: all designed to encourage integrated play.

Captain Anna Davis, 15th Wing executive officer, discussed how the project is addressing families that are part of the Exceptional Family Member Program, a service that works with military and civilian agencies to provide comprehensive and coordinated community support, housing, educational, medical and personnel services to families with special needs.

“We want our military families to feel heard, seen and valued. EFMP families belong here. Their children belong here,” said Davis.

The playground has been a passion project for the 15th Wing Commander, Col. Michele Lo Bianco, who is personally invested in providing a playground for families like her own.

“As an EFMP mother to a nonverbal autistic son, we are often forgotten and our needs are not considered when planning parks and play spaces. My son, just like other children, wants to play, explore and be a kid,” she explained. “We have a large number of EFMP children and moreover, we have so many families that want to connect and have fun. This playground, Hickam Field of Dreams, is the first step in investing in our families and their future. ”

Lo Bianco expressed how the playground may open more doors to families on the installation and how she hopes to expand the use of the playground to the surrounding community after its construction.

“The local community also has the same requirements and needs [as military families]. This park is a great opportunity to bring in the community and connect. I envision a shared space where both military and community members and their children, share joy and create great memories,” said Lo Bianco.

The playground is expected to finish construction in July of this year and will be open to service members and their families on and off base.

“We want to have community spaces where we can connect, have fun and be accepted,” Lo Bianco voiced. “I am proud of the entire team that continues to make this dream a reality for generations to come. They truly embrace our Wing motto of "Make it Matter!"