Kids in Winnipeg's Elmwood neighbourhood can now play in a park named after an Olympic champion, as the Clara Hughes Recreation Park opened today.

The park is located on the old Kelvin Community Centre site on Henderson Highway, in an area where Hughes spent much of her time as a teenager.

"Access to play spaces [is] so important for kids. For me, I think back and without this I would not be who I was as an athlete, but I [also] wouldn't be who I am as a person," the six-time Olympic medallist told CBC News.

The $758,000 project includes a skateboard pod, accessible playground, hockey skills area and new landscaping.

Funding for the park, which was named in honour of Hughes in 2012, came from three levels of government.

"I don't think about my name being on it. I think about this place existing, this space being here," she said.

"I see kids over on the swings. Like, I hear there are kids in the bowl on their skateboards. That's what makes me happy."

Renovations to the existing building for changing skates are being planned by the General Council of Winnipeg Community Centres and Bronx Park Community Centre, in partnership with City of Winnipeg staff. Construction is set to start in the spring of 2014.