A public informational meeting was held on Monday, August 28 at Greenwood City Hall to discuss the future adaptive playground.
GAPP, Greenwood Adaptive Playground Project, is comprised of local individuals with a passion for the children in the community to have a place to connect and play, no matter their age or abilities.
The group has partnered with the City of Greenwood Parks & Recreation department to bring an inclusive and adaptive playground to the area.
“With the help of Compassion Legacy, a Greenwood-based non-profit 501c3 dedicated to making public spaces more accessible for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities,) Unlimited Play (a large non-profit 501c3 specialized in planning, designing & constructing inclusive play areas across the country) and the support of our community, we know this vision is attainable.”
Three-year-old Zachary Blakemore provided the original inspiration behind Unlimited Play. Zachary suffers from a rare genetic central nervous system disease (Pelizaeus Merzbacher Disease) that confines him to a wheelchair or assistive walking device. But like all children, Zachary loves to play.
When his mother Natalie would take Zachary to the park to play, the playground would only emphasize his limitations. And even more frustrating was the fact that the playground’s barriers that stopped him from playing also prevented him from interacting with the other children.
But after visiting an accessible playground while traveling to the east coast, Zachary’s parents Natalie and Todd began to dream of creating an accessible playground in Zachary’s hometown – and of the day when playgrounds like this would exist for children everywhere. They teamed with Zachary’s pediatric speech therapist, and Unlimited Play was born in 2003. (source https://unlimitedplay.org/about/)
The organization continues to help to plan, design and build fully accessible playgrounds that allow all children – regardless of their abilities – to play together. A valuable resource in the community.
Natalie Mackey attended the meeting and shared her passion, that all children have the opportunity, regardless of ability, for outdoor play.
“Natalie has specific expertise in inclusive playgrounds, having been a part of nearly 100 individual projects from start to finish,” shared Parks and Recreation Director Casey Craig. “She has a team that sees a project through to completion starting with grant writing and finishing with general contracting of the project.”
Craig noted that the fundraising goal is close to half a million. “We are hoping to keep the donations private – the idea of a golf tournament has been tossed around. But nothing has been set in stone yet…We shot for the moon on the project design. We’re hoping that we can raise the money necessary to build our dream park in a single phase. If we are unable, we will either phase the park or scale back our design.”
The tentative timeline for the completion of the inclusive park is the next budget year. The construction of the proposed inclusive park will take place at Heartsill Meadow (Westwood).
If you are interested in becoming involved in this project, either as a volunteer, or as a donor, please contact Casey Craig at (479) 322-8531.