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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Comforting Hearts All-Inclusive Playground Grand-Opening coming August 6th in Washington

Updated: Jul 23, 2023

WASHINGTON - JULY 21, 2023 - Comforting Hearts All-Inclusive Playground Grand -Opening will be August 6th from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm at the Longfellow Park in Washington, Indiana.



The group sought out over $451,000 in funding to bring the project to a reality, and there are a few more things the group would like to purchase to finish up the project.



The playground equipment at the park is now open, new grass has been planted around the area and Washington Parks Department is asking people to stay off the grass. However, it is now available for the children to enjoy.


Cameras will be installed to make sure no vandalism is done to the park.



Developmental Services Inc. and NASCO Industries is sponsoring the the grand-opening.


The group will be raising money for fencing and music, and anyone wishing to donate can do so. The group is needing about $75,000 in more funding to bring it to its conclusion.



The dream to build the park came about one year ago and was a dream of many especially parents who have children with physical challenges of not being able to play on playground equipment.



"We are so excited that the playground is finished and that ALL children can play together without barriers. We still are raising funds for fencing and music for the all-inclusive playground," said April Hunt who founded Comforting Hearts.




Lawrence County first brought you the story back in November 2022, that story is featured below.



WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 19, 2022 - Being All- Inclusive is a term used by many government organizations, schools, parks systems, and other public places.


Kaity Hunt age 8, would like to enjoy the playground equipment, activities that other children are able to do, however there are still some places that do not accommodate those with physical challenges


However, when it comes to those with physical limitations, being really included is a challenge.


" All children deserve to be able and play," says April Barnes Hunt, whose daughter Kaity was born with a medical condition since birth that prevents her from participating in many activities other children are able to do. " Those children who just sit and watch from the sidelines is just heartbreaking," Hunt added.


" It hurts sometimes not being able to play like some of my friends, even at my school it is not really made for me to be able to play like my friends," said Kaity Hunt who was born with a rare birth defect. Kaity is now age 8 and is looking forward to the new playground equipment.


Cambrie and Whitney Fleagle


Comforting Hearts, a group of parents and family members of children with special needs and other concern citizens in Washington, sponsored by Washington Free Methodist Church, has perceived a pressing need for an inclusive playground to be available in the area. This need is apparent as children in wheelchairs or with other challenges have difficulty using playground facilities in Washington.


" Though are parks department has ensured that our playgrounds are accessible in the sense that mobility devices can get to them, they fall short of being inclusive in that the flooring is of the mulch variety and much of the equipment cannot be used by one with a disability. It is very difficult for a wheelchair to reach the equipment on mulch and once there, the equipment is largely unusable," said Hunt.



According to Comforting Hearts, it has been documented widely that non-inclusive recreational facilities greatly increase the segregation of kids with disabilities, adding negative stigma they suffer. This is to their detriment and to the detriment of our children who sometimes have misunderstandings of kids with differing abilities due to limited contact. Several other communities across Indiana and the nation have recognize this extreme need and have responded by developing such playgrounds.


Comforting Hearts Group working to bring all-inclusive Playground equipment to Longfellow Park in Washington


Comforting Hearts has met with Washington Parks Department and has found them very receptive and helpful in the project. The group has identified Longfellow Park to be a perfect place to be able to provide the inclusive environment for these children.


" I am a Physical Therapist and love working with children with disabilities, in which I have been a PT since 2004. I have really zoned in children over the past ten to fifteen years, said Angie Kribs, Vice-President Comforting Hearts.


" I work in the outpatient setting and school system, so I have seen firsthand the children in the schools who struggle to join their classmates in physical activities," said Kribs.


" I think all children need to the ability to be able to play, and to hear my patients talk about join their siblings on the playground and classmates; feeling like they just have to sit and watch is heartbreaking,"


Food was served to help with a donation to the fundraiser for the playground equipment


Comforting Hearts group was formed and organized in March 2022. The Washington Free Methodist Church was formed 100 years ago. The project itself is hoping to have the playground constructed and ready for use in the Summer of 2023.


The group is hoping to have the $450,560 project fully funded and implemented by this summer.


The bid for the specialized equipment is estimated at b$228,560 and a critical aspect of this development is the mobility enabling rubber base, which will add another $200,000 to the project cost. In addition, fencing, benches, and other related components add an expense of roughly $22,00 for the total of $450,560.


The group hopes the amount will be reduced by volunteer in-kind efforts and donated funds are solicited and received from local business and individuals. The Daviess Community Foundation have contributed towards the project.


On Saturday, the group held a fundraiser at the Eastside Park Community Center with a silent auction, pictures, and food.


SPONSORSHIPS

  • Platinum - $10,000

  • Gold - $5,000 - 9,999

  • Silver - $2,500 - $4,999

  • Bronze - $1,000 - $2,499

These sponsorships will receive special recognition on our donor plaque. Any amount is appreciated and will help the group work toward the goal of $450,000.


If interested in donating a large amount for sponsorship email: comforting hearts1@gmail.com


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