SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — One of Sacramento’s most inclusive playgrounds has been given a second life as Southside Park unveiled its newly refurbished ‘Universal Universe’ playground on May 7.
The Universal Universe playground, located at 2115 6th Street, was first opened in 2005 as one of the first all-access playgrounds in Northern California.
The ground breaking park, themed around the solar system, included play equipment with access ramps and handrails, self propelled spin play units, independent climbing apparatuses, play units with sound features and brightly colored play features with protective rubber surfacing in the shape of planets.
One family that greatly enjoyed the park was that of young boy Jonnie Laver who suffered from complications from meningitis and was wheelchair bound.
Jonnie and his parents Marc and Linda Laver were asked to cut the ribbon for the opening of the park in 2005.
The Laver family enjoyed the park for over a decade before Jonnie died in 2019, but Marc continued to visit the park and noticed the poor condition his late son’s favorite park was falling into.
In response Laver started the Jonnie and Friends Reach for the Stars fundraiser with the mission of raising funds to refurbish the Universal Universe playground.
Sacramento County District 1 Supervisor Phil Serna visited the reopening of the all-access playground and was ‘proud’ to have been apart of making the playground possible.
“It is the pride of Sacramento because it is the most welcoming public space I’ve ever witnessed,” Serna wrote in a Facebook post. “So very proud to have played a very small part of making this incredible all-access playground a reality. Special, special thanks to Marc Laver who is our local, neighborhood champion for this special place.”