Temple Parks & Leisure Services dedicates new fully accessible playground in Lions Park

On Saturday, May 22, 2010 the Temple Parks & Leisure Services dedicated the new Rotary Playground in Lions Park  This fully accessible playground is the first of its kind within hundreds of miles of Temple and was made possible by the support of a number of Temple individuals and organizations.

“We are very proud to be opening this new playground up to our residents and visitors,” Parks & Leisure Services Director Ken Cicora said. “I know that it is going to be appreciated by so many local children and adults with special needs.”

The naming rights to the playground were purchased by the Rotary Club of Temple South, and the playground will be named “Rotary Playground”.  “For our 25th anniversary, our Rotary Club members wanted to do something very special for the Temple community. When this project was presented to our club, we voted unanimously to help it become a reality,” said Dan Jones, Rotary Club of Temple South president. “We believe it will really fill a void in Temple in making outdoor fun and exercise available to everyone.”

The playground is unique in that it allows anyone with a special need to move around at ground level. The Rotary Playground is designed to be completely accessible to wheelchairs. It features three interconnected decks with attached play events, swings, a whirl, a see-saw, an elevated sandbox, a freestanding hammock, a race car spring rider, and several other play features all designed with accessibility and inclusion as the primary objectives. The playground will also feature a combination of engineered wood fiber and recycled, poured-in-place rubberized surface for accessibility and fall protection.

“To find a similar facility you would have to travel as far as Dallas or Houston,” Cicora said. “For a community the size of Temple to support a project like this says a tremendous amount about the corporate, civic and individual sponsors who made the playground go from being a dream to reality. We are truly blessed in Temple.”

The idea of an accessible playground was initially the project of a Leadership Temple group. The total budget for the playground was $175,000, so the group partnered with the Temple Parks Foundation to raise more than $150,000 in individual and group donations. Ultimately, a $50,000 title sponsorship from the Rotary Club of Temple South made the playground a reality.

Amanda Krcha was a member of the original Leadership Temple class to initiate the project. She is confident that after Saturday’s dedication, the playground will become a popular destination.  “I think it’s going to be a real benefit to a lot of Temple families,” Krcha said. “Moreover, I really think that it is going to draw people from all over the surrounding area.”

Because a project of this scope was sure to take longer than the eight months given to Leadership Temple classes, Krcha’s group approached the current Leadership Temple class for help seeing the playground through to completion. Marilyn Janes’s Leadership Temple group has taken up the cause this year.

“We are just fortunate to be able to work with the previous year’s group and be inspired by their loyalty and dedication to their project,” Janes said. “Even though they were not able to get it all done within the eight month period, they stuck with it to the end.”  Janes recently saw the playground in its almost complete form and was blown away.

“It looks amazing. I was jumping up and down when I saw it,” Janes said. “Everyone was wondering what was wrong with me.”

“Imagine being a child who has never had the chance to play in a sandbox,” Krcha said. “Starting that Saturday, the sandbox was open to everyone! That’s a pretty powerful thing.”

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