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May 9, 2010

Grant would help fund playground

Internet voting determines recipients

RICHMOND — The Richmond Parks and Recreation Department and the Eastern Kentucky University Department of Recreation and Parks Administration are asking the community for help in acquiring a grant that could help fund a handicapped-accessible playground at Lake Reba Park.

A $25,000 Pepsi Refresh Grant is up for grabs to the 10 communities that receive the most online votes by May 31.

Voting can be conducted at www.refresheverything.com/search/?q=lake+reba or go to the site www.refresheverything.com and type in a search for Lake Reba.

Local fundraising efforts have accounted for $22,500, which is enough to build a playground.

The additional $25,000 would allow for a bigger playground area to be built, said Erin Moore, assistant director of Richmond Parks and Recreation.

“We have some designs already, but it depends on how much money we get for how big the playground will be,” she said. “We have to rely on the community for support. It really has to be a community effort to obtain this grant.”

Existing playgrounds at Lake Reba Park are split into two sections. One is for children 5 and younger and the other is for children 6 to 12 years of age.

Officials want to use the area between the two playgrounds for the handicapped accessible playground.

The playground would include ramps and other structures that would allow children easier access, Moore said.

Some of the proposed structures include sensory equipment for patrons with sensory and stimulation needs, tunnels for patrons with limited mobility, balancing elements for children with developmental disabilities such as Down Syndrome, slides that reach the ground to enable easier transfer mobility and additional play equipment to aid in the health promotion of all children and adults alike, including parents, grandparents and veterans, according to a press release from the Lake Reba Handicap Playground Project.

With this playground, children with disabilities will be able to explore new environments and experience play in an all-new realm and disabled parents, grandparents and veterans will be able to interface with their children in this play environment, the release states.

Michelle Parke Doty, whose daughter Campbell, 4, is disabled, said a large group of children in Madison County would benefit from a handicap accessible park.

“I don’t think people realize how large the disabled community is among children,” she said. “There’s a lot of kids in this area who are disabled.”

Campbell, who is in a wheelchair, loves to be outside, but taking her to a park can sometimes be difficult, said Doty.

“It will be much easier to transfer her to a swing or a slide,” she said. “A lot of it is about safety and having a place where she can play and have the same experience as other kids. This will allow her to experience everything a typical child would.”

Even though the playground will be handicapped-accessible, it can be utilized by those with or without disabilities, Moore said, which means that children like Campell and her brother Matthew, 10, would have the opportunity to use the same playground.

“The big thing is really making sure that we can get as many people to vote as possible,” Doty said.

As of Thursday, the local project was ranked 113th in voting.

Tim Mandell can be reached at tmandell@richmondregister.com or 623-1669 ext. 6696.

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