Cleveland opens playground to draw children of all abilities

Cleveland opens playground to draw children of all abilities

August 2nd, 2012 by Randall Higgins in News

The new Civitan Inclusive Playground opened this week in Cleveland, Tenn. The new playground took three years of planning and fundraising. It is designed for children at all levels of physical ability. It replaces a 1985 HandiPark, one of the first of its kind in the country, which no longer met federal regulations.

Photo by Randall Higgins/Times Free Press.

AT A GLANCE

Seven principles of inclusive play:

* Fair

* Included

* Smart

* Independent

* Safe

* Active

* Comfortable

Source: PlayCore

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - A new playground, designed to be inclusive for every child's physical abilities, opened here Monday.

The park, located next to George R. Stuart School, was a three-year project by the Cleveland Civitan Club that included corporate and public donations and planning with GameTime, a division of Chattanooga-based PlayCore with manufacturing in Fort Payne, Ala.

"The playground is complete, but we still have a few things to do with landscaping and parking," said David Cummings, Civitan president.

"This new park fully implements the seven principles of inclusive playground design," PlayCore's Jennie Sumrell said. "That includes thinking beyond accessibility and thinking about development of the whole child."

The playground replaces a 1988 version, called HandiPark, designed by GameTime as the first commercial playground in the U.S. built to accommodate those with physical and mental disabilities, Cummings said. The local version of that park was sponsored by the Civitan Club and the United Way.

"Heavy use took its toll," Cummings said, and the old park no longer met the requirements of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, either.

The club's Ann Marie Brewer of SkyRidge Medical Center said the community raised $170,000 for the project, including $50,000 each from the George R. Johnson Family Foundation, Bradley County Healthy Community Initiative and Don Ledford Automotive Center.

Among the speakers at Monday's grand opening, Mayor Tom Rowland declared Monday as Cleveland Civitan Day and presented Cummings with a certificate.