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Goshen building all-inclusive playground

GOSHEN, Ind. -- The Goshen Parks and Recreation Department is asking for the community donations that will help fund the city’s first inclusive playground. 

Tanya Heyde, superintendent of the Goshen Parks and Recreation Department, says if the department can raise $50,000 by Dec. 11, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority will match that money through the program, CreatINg Places. 

The money could help pay for the final part of the $400,000 playground. 

“I think that we need to ensure that we’re providing for everyone,” said Heyde. “For some of those who may have been underserved up until this point, with recreation and being able to play side by side with each other, we think that this is pretty significant.”

Federal law requires playgrounds to be accessible to people with disabilities. The Goshen Parks and Recreation Department says accessibility makes sure everybody can reach the playground. Since the area around the current playground at Hay Park is flat and open, someone in a wheelchair for example could get to the playground. However, the Goshen Parks and Recreation Department says accessibility doesn’t mean everyone can get on the playground and interact with the equipment. 

“The inclusive playground ensures, regardless of ability, can get onto that playground,” said Heyde. “They can interact with that playground, they can interact with that equipment, other children, family members who may be on the playground, and they can also reach the highest point.” 

The department says this playground will allow children, parents, and grandparents of all abilities to use the playground. For example, there are wheelchair ramps for those with a physical disability, braille panels for people who are deaf, and calm areas for those with sensory issues. 

“Every child deserves the same opportunity no matter what it is,” said recreation director Kim Stephens. “Whether it’s play, school, education. Parents that maybe have a disability, they deserve to have those interactions with their kids at the park and have those life experiences and create those memories.”  

People with disabilities in Goshen say they’re excited the city is addressing the needs of others.  

Arlene Long is a Goshen mother and grandmother. She’s lived in Goshen for most of her life.  

When Long was a teenage, a car accident left her paralyzed and in a wheelchair. 

Arlene says when her children were growing up, she didn’t have the luxury of getting out on the playground with her kids. Most playgrounds have steps and pathways that make it difficult for a wheelchair to get through. 

While her children are too old, Arlene says she’s looking forward to taking her grandchildren to this new playground. She thinks it will make a difference for people with disabilities in Goshen.

“It’s fine to sit and watch, but I didn’t get that luxury of being able to climb around on the equipment with my kids so, this park will actually change that for parents and grandparents and maybe aunts and uncles who do want to get out there on the playground with their kids and be able to interact and have fun with them right there in the midst of all the equipment,” said Long. 

Construction for the park is set to start in the spring of 2019. 

Those interested in donating can click here.

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