Clockwise: Finley, Lauren, Cleo, Oliver, and Evelyn. Photo courtesy of Mariah Roberts.

On October 19, 2015, the Santa Cruz County Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously voted to approve the name of “Leo’s Haven” for the Chanticleer Park inclusive playground planned for the Live Oak community of Santa Cruz, CA.

For nearly a year, members of the Santa Cruz Playground Project have been on a quest to find a simple, beautiful, and meaningful name for the playground.  Input was sought from community members and other stakeholders in the project.  After much discussion the name, Leo’s Haven, became the clear choice.

10526040_10204510991760703_4624488679612191797_nThe story behind the playground’s new name starts with three siblings.  Leo stands for Lauren, Evelyn, and Oliver Potts.  These twin sisters and their little brother are the inspiration behind the name for this future playground.  Oliver uses a wheelchair for mobility and the kids found it frustrating to play on most playgrounds.  Even ADA compliant designs prevented them from really playing together.   This caused their parents, Bob and Tricia, to advocate for an inclusively designed playground which provides better play opportunities to children regardless of their abilities to be built within Santa Cruz County.

The second part of the name, Haven, has several levels of meaning.  It first describes the Live Oak community and their deep support of an inclusive design for the planned playground feature at Chanticleer Park. This community responded whole-heartedly to a serious need within the greater Santa Cruz County community, even when it meant reevaluating their long-held plans for Chanticleer Park.  Their vision means children will have a safe and welcoming haven for play in an area that desperately needs it.

IMG_2770On another level, this haven of play, while planned for all children, is particularly envisioned for special needs children and their families.  Day to day life demands an intense and even unfair level of strength from these children.  This playground will be a place where they can come to forget about doctor appointments, hospital visits, therapy sessions, and IEPs and just play with their friends and families.

It is also envisioned to be a haven where parents who have just started on the special needs journey can come and realize their community has thought of them, values them, and has planned a place of acceptance and support.  It will be a place where grandparents with mobility issues can bring their grandchildren.  It will be a place where a mom in a wheelchair or a dad who isn’t can play tag with a son or daughter. Leo’s Haven will be all this and more.

Fundraising for the playground is planned to kick off within the next few months.  Stay tuned to our blog on santacruzplaygroundproject.org for updates and follow us on Facebook at Santa Cruz Playground Project.


Lauren, Evelyn, and Oliver Potts with their dog, Zucci.