“Project Sandbox,” an effort to build an all-inclusive playground, got two big boosts from the city of Daphne to start raising the $350,000 needed to make it a reality.
The new playground would allow kids of all ages and abilities to play together at the park on land donated by the city at the entrance to its sportsplex. Daphne also contributed $100,000 toward construction of the project. The project has been on city leaders’ minds for years but it is just now moving forward.
“To have our local group step in and have that same vision and want to work with the city and move that forward and out of just a plan sitting there and come up with new plans,” Councilman Robin LeJeune said. “What a great way to have this community come together and do something exceptional for our special children and all the children of the Eastern Shore.”
That local group is led by Ray Moore and his fellow members of the Daphne-Spanish Fort Kiwanis and the Exceptional Foundation Gulf Coast. The foundation is a club formed out of a group of special-needs adults who gather for activities daily at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Daphne.
Moore says the Kiwanis have raised more than $35,000, leaving the project about $215,000 short of the goal.
“We haven’t even gone out into the public yet,” Moore said. “It’s getting toward the end of the year and everybody’s got to fulfill their charitable contributions for the end of the year, so we’d like nothing more for them to consider us.”
With the high price tag, Moore says, comes a state-of-the-art playground the group wants to be top of the line.
“Nowadays everything’s got to be [Americans with Disabilities Act] ADA compliant,” Moore said. “This goes even further because the ramps going up into the different stations are wide enough that two wheelchairs can pass each other. The slides will have [adjustable] heights, [some are] the same height as the wheelchair so they can just scoot over. The park will have a foam-like surface, so if someone falls it’s very cushioned. The higher the things are off the ground the thicker the cushion is below it.”
Bringing the park up to the highest standards possible is also a goal for Moore and his group. To make it a certified all-inclusive playground, it must meet seven principles as set forward by the Me2 design initiative.
“When we include the seven principles of an inclusive park, we’ll probably be the only ones in the state to have that,” Moore said. “We’re looking forward to it. It’s a daunting endeavor but we’ll get there.”
Those seven principles are: be fair (create equitable opportunities), be included (access flexibility), be smart, be independent, be safe, be active and be comfortable.
“On the Eastern Shore there’s nothing like this and that’s a shame,” Moore said. “It’ll make a place in our community that kids can go. No matter what ability they have they have a place to go play.”
For more information about Project Sandbox or to donate funds, visit facebook.com/projectsandboxdaphne or email email@example.com.
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