WASHINGTON, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – The groundbreaking for an all-inclusive playground in Daviess County is right around the corner, which will help ensure no child has to sit out while their friends are playing.
A small ledge or uneven ground has made it nearly impossible for someone like Tala Davis to enjoy a playground with her mom and sister.
“Really the biggest hurdle is she’s in a wheelchair, she needs full-body support so her safest option is to stay in her wheelchair. And because of that, getting her from the car, to the wheelchair and then to the pieces of equipment is really difficult,” Christine Davis, mom of Tala Davis, said.
Tala is three years old and was born with Walker-Warburg Syndrome, a congenital muscular dystrophy.
It affects the development of the muscles, brain, and eyes.
“The things that are meant for three-year-olds are smaller and so when she was younger we were able to hold her in our arms and safely kind of go on the swing with her or go down the slide, but as she gets bigger and needs that additional support, and those bigger pieces of equipment, we’re really not able to help her play on those,” Davis said.
April Hunt is the founder of Comforting Hearts, the non-profit behind the all-inclusive playground that’s coming to Longfellow Park.
It’s been about a year in the making and the groundbreaking is finally happening Saturday, May 13.
“You know, as a mom with a child with different abilities, I knew that I had to get this done because we have so many children in our community that have different abilities and they can’t just go to our beautiful parks that we have in Washington,” Hunt said.
She said Longfellow Park offered to let them build it right next to their existing playground, making it so children of all abilities can play together.
“The key difference is, we’re going to have a rubber base. A rubber base is smooth so the children with wheelchairs, walkers, [or] walking devices can go anywhere within the playground. And then the playground is going to be fully accessible so no matter what their ability is, they’ll be able to play like a normal child and they will not have to sit on the sidelines,” Hunt said.
The budget of the playground is about $498,000, and Comforting Hearts has been able to raise most of that in about 10 months.
“That speaks to the mission, I mean how important it is for us to have an all-inclusive playground in a progressive, forward-looking community like Washington. Not only will it serve the kids with and without differing abilities, but it also will bring economic development to this community because we’ll be seen as a progressive community that is responsive,” Steve Sacksteder, Comforting Hearts Board Member, said.
Hunt said she is so excited to have the construction process begin on the playground, as she knows all too well what it’s like to have to watch your child hang out on the sidelines at the park.
“I have a daughter that has a wheelchair and just to see her smile about being able to play with her friends and finally being able to play with her sister at one park, it’s amazing. It’s one of the greatest feelings,” Hunt said.
Hunt said they still need about $40,000 to reach the $498,000 amount.
For all of the different ways you can donate, visit the Comforting Hearts Facebook page by clicking here.