WASHINGTON, Ind. (WAWV/WTWO) – Founder of Comforting Hearts, April Hunt, said she has been designing and organizing an all-inclusive playground with help from Washington Free Methodist Church since March.
“The inspiration is my two girls,” said Hunt. “I have a daughter that has a rare diagnosis called segmental spinal dysgenesis, and she has a wheelchair. We don’t take her to parks because she can’t roll around in the mulch even though they are ADA-approved.”
Hunt said her oldest daughter, Christina, said it’s been a wish of hers to play with her younger sister on the playground.
“My eleven-year-old Christina wrote ‘my dream is to be able to play with my sister on the playground, and not see her struggle,’ so this is really important,” Hunt said.
The inclusive playground project involves reflooring an existing mulch playground at Long Fellow Park to one with a rubber base, for easier mobility access.
Hunt also said they look to expand and add specialized equipment and fencing to the playground as well.
“When you go into a park that’s fenced you just turn your child loose,” Hunt said. “It’s really hard when you have a child with a different ability.”
Project Grant Writer, Steve Sacksteder, said the city and the local parks department are in support of the inclusive playground efforts.
While the preliminary bid for the project is estimated to be a total of $450,500,060, Sacksteder believes this is a project the organization can raise the money for.
“For example, the ROI grant, the federal grant for over $250,000 dollars,” Sacksteder said. “We have also written a local grant for almost $30,000 to our community foundation. We have a number of options like that.”
Hunt said the organization expects to secure full funding within a year and start construction shortly after.
“There are some children in our community that have a time limit,” Hunt said. “For them to be able to see this would be amazing not for just themselves, but their families as well.”
Comforting Hearts will have a silent auction on November 19 to help raise funds for the all-inclusive playground.
If you are interested in donating or learning more, you can visit their Facebook.