TRENTON, NJ – Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a measure that incentivizes counties to build inclusive playgrounds for children and adults with disabilities. The bill known as “Jake’s Law” refers to Jake’s Place, a playground in Cherry Hill, which was created in honor of Jacob Cummings-Nasto, who passed away due to complications of heart surgery at the age of two and a half. He was born with hypoplastic heart syndrome and the park was a preferred place for physical therapy.
“No child should lack access to playgrounds based on their physical abilities,” said Governor Murphy. “I am proud that New Jersey is leading by example as an inclusive state through this act, ensuring our great State is a place that welcomes all 9 million of us.”
“The Board and donors of Build Jake’s Place is grateful to Governor Murphy for signing “Jake’s Law”, ensuring thousands of New Jersey children, of every ability, a place to play,” said Jim Cummings, Jacob’s grandfather and board member at Build Jake’s Place. “Originally sponsored by Senator Beach and Majority Leader Greenwald, this law places New Jersey in the forefront of a national movement, by seeking to provide children with disabilities inclusive playgrounds in every county of the state. Build Jake’s Place has been in the forefront of this effort, erecting Jake’s Place Cherry Hill playground, named one of the ten best all-access playgrounds in the country, and opening Jake’s Place Delran this fall. It is hoped, within the foreseeable future, every play opportunity in the state will include every child of every ability.”
Counties that submit applications to build inclusive playgrounds similar to Jake’s Place will be prioritized in Green Acre funding. The Department of Community Affairs, in consultation with the Department of Education, will create rules and regulations for design, installation, inspection and maintenance of the inclusive playgrounds. The rules and regulations will be to implemented to exceed the requirements established by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and ensure that these inclusive playgrounds are accessible for children of all physical and mental abilities.
Bill sponsors include Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, Assembly members Pamela Lampitt and Gabriela Mosquera, and Senators James Beach and Nilsa Cruz-Perez.
“Inclusive playgrounds provide opportunities for play that are not available at most playgrounds for children and adults with disabilities. Many parks, even those that are Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, do not have proper wheelchair access and equipment suitable for all visitors,” said Majority Leader Greenwald. “This legislation was inspired by a boundless playground in my district, Jake’s Place, which was built in honor of a young boy, Jacob Myles Cummings-Nasto, who was born with a rare cardiac condition. I am honored to have been able to work on this legislation with Jake’s grandparents, Lynn and Jim Cummings, to ensure all children like Jake have a place to play.”
“Jake’s Law fulfills a dream of providing all of New Jersey’s children with boundless play,”said Senator Beach. “Inclusive playgrounds like Jake’s Place are joyful places where children of all backgrounds, ages and physical abilities play together without limitations. I applaud Governor Murphy for signing Jake’s Law today and working to ensure that inclusive playgrounds will be in every county of our wonderful state.”