Inclusion playgrounds are a place where all children can play and have a similar experience. Families can play together, spend quality time with all family members and interact with other families.
The City of Brentwood and City of Franklin will soon both have inclusive playgrounds allowing children with special needs to have an opportunity to play with their peers.
Many people mistakenly believe that playgrounds are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to include elements designed for children with Down syndrome, sensory disorders, and visual and hearing impairments.
Current ADA standards only require that playgrounds be accessible for those who use a wheelchair or other mobility aid.
However, with an inclusive playground, the benefit to the community is that all families can play on safe and fun equipment and the benefit for the children is teaching them empathy for others with a disability.
According to a recent poll conducted by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), nearly 9 in 10 Americans say communities should offer all-inclusive play options at playgrounds across the country. This includes playground equipment that is suitable for children of all physical and cognitive abilities.
Both municipalities are definitely addressing the need, with their own unique approach. Here is the information on what each city is doing to bring inclusive playgrounds to their city.
Granny White Park
Members of the Brentwood City Commission are expected to vote to allocate $75,000 in 2021 toward the project to reconstruct the existing playground at Granny White Park and create an updated inclusion playground.
“The City will consider additional funding in the FY 2022 Capital Improvements Budget toward the cost of the playground. For now, the total cost of the project is estimated at $1 million, but that is very preliminary and could change based on the outcome of the engineering work,” said Kirk Bednar, city manager.
Bids for the architect have been sent out by the city and they are currently in the selection process. The City of Brentwood has started identifying what site work will need to be done.
The City of Brentwood’s 50th committee allocated $80,000 from their fundraising events towards the new playground. The timing of the City’s additional funding is dependent upon the success of the Rotary Club’s community fundraising effort.
The Brentwood Rotary Clubs have formed a joint committee of Rotarians, community leaders, business owners, and non-profit organizations to fundraise for the construction of the playgrounds. This committee is looking for sponsors, donors and volunteers.
“The Rotary Club of Brentwood and the Brentwood Charitable Foundation are honored to be a part of the Brentwood Inclusion Playground project,” says Sarah Johnson, former president of the noon Rotary and chair of the project.
“I believe 100% the playground will be beneficial to all citizens of Brentwood from the children it serves, to the parents, businesses that hire disabled employees and families that have a child with disabilities. We are excited to work together with the community to make the Inclusion Playground a reality in Brentwood.”
Dependent on the success of the fundraising campaign, volunteers are hoping to raise enough money to build a second inclusion playground at Crockett Park. This would of course have to be voted on by the City Commissioners.
Donations can be mailed to Brentwood Rotary Club Charitable Foundation at P.O. Box 382, Brentwood, TN 37024-0382
Ellie G’s Dream World
The City of Franklin’s inclusive park is named after Elliot Grace Castro, known as Ellie G. The beloved granddaughter of Alderman Brandy Blanton, Ellie G passed away in September 2019 at 4 years of age.
Enclosed within the new Southeastern Municipal Complex Park, the inclusive playground is a public-private partnership. Ellie G’s Dream World will be the first public inclusive playground within the Franklin Parks System.
“I am so excited that we are able to bring this much needed amenity to the citizens of Franklin,” Blanton said. “And as much as I wish Ellie G were here to enjoy it, it is an incredible gift for it to be named in her honor. I look forward to spending time there with her little brother, Knox, and all my grandchildren.”
Ellie G’s Dream World will have a safari theme, with the center focus of the park mirroring the “tree of life” that was a part of Ellie G’s “Team Elliott” logo. Blanton knows this is something Ellie G would have loved.
On October 13, 2020 Franklin’s Board of Mayor and Alderman expressed their support for the naming of the park during a work session. It was then approved at their next board meeting.
Nonprofit Friends of Franklin Parks is fundraising for the new park that will be housed within the new Southeast Municipal Complex located on Carothers Parkway.
Torrey Barnhill, executive director for Friends of Franklin Parks says, “Fundraising will be community led. A group of passionate people worked together to move this project forward. It has been pure collaboration.
The non-profit has committed to raise 1.5 million dollars. Sponsorship levels are being developed to be presented to BOMA in the next three to six months. Even the sponsor levels will include safari names. The goal is to keep the community engaged and excited about the upcoming project.
The 2-acre playground is only one component of the 188-acre southeast park that includes five football fields, miles of walking trails, concessions, ADA accessible restrooms and a pavilion.
The total cost of the inclusive playground is approximately $3 million dollars. It is estimated that the park will open in 2023.
To learn more about donating, visit https://www.friendsoffranklinparks.org/donate