After six years, a dream for a swing which would service special needs persons has blossomed into a full-fledged playground designed specifically for special needs persons, a dream now open to the public.
The Preble County Department of Developmental Disabilities held their grand opening ceremony, Friday, May 16 for the new A.S.K. (Advocating for Special Kids) Playground located on Maple St. in Eaton.
Betsy Morrison and Corey Mangan, members of the Parent’s Support Group Board have met with various playground companies to help with their design. Game Time, an Ohio-based playground company was instrumental in the development of the playground, according to Mangan. “We wanted to do this right,” he said. “The community got involved and got behind us, we worked very hard on this project.”
The funding for the project was solely private funding, and did not utilize public dollars. “Community involvement has been very essential,” said Morrison. “Without their help, we couldn’t have done it. We’ve raised over $300,000, and a lot of that has been private donations from community members, agencies in the community, businesses in the community, fundraisers … even children brought their piggy-banks and donated it to the playground.”
Volunteers have been essential to the project, as well, according to Mangan. “We had different groups, different organizations, family members come out to help us, so that was a great thing. Businesses just donated their time as well, people donated their Saturdays,” he said.
Recent rainy days have been an obstacle for the project, said Mangan, which has prevented crucial last-minute details such as laying a final layer of rubber on the playground. The project had other obstacles throughout the entirety of the process.
“As our eyes kept getting bigger, and adding more equipment, we knew the price was going up and we are a small committee, but we all came together and worked hard identifying different funding sources,” said Mangan. “Doing the work [was an obstacle] as well, making decisions, making sure that we were doing the right things for the community, for the people that want to use the playground.”
The board has been asked to build a special needs ballpark, but has no plans to move forward with the idea as of yet.