Dorthan, AL now has one of the largest accessible playgrounds

By DEBBIE INGRAM
Published: June 27, 2010

FROM DORTHAN EAGLE

Sandra Shellhouse envisions the day her daughter, Amanda, can interact with other children on the playground.

“It will mean the world to her,” Shellhouse said. “She loves to socialize and mingle. We used to put her in the seat swing at Solomon Park when she was little. Then she got the wheelchair, and since then, there was nowhere to go.”

A big, bright yellow, red and blue world of fun and adventure is opening for those like 20-year-old Amanda with the construction of the Rotary Miracle Playground located behind Westgate Park Recreation Center.

The half-million-dollar playground is being funded entirely with cash and in-kind contributions through the Dothan Rotary Club and the Dothan-Houston County Rotary Club.

Saturday more than 350 volunteers gathered to put metal to metal as part of the Dothan Leisure Service’s Community Build Playground project. Volunteers included parents of special needs children, soldiers fromFort Rucker, Rotarians, firefighters, law enforcement, public officials and others.

When the work was near completion in record time around 9:30 a.m., Shellhouse and her daughter discussed the possibilities.

“Now she can put her wheelchair on the Sway Fun that actually sways like a swing,” Shellhouse said. “There are ramps wide enough where two wheelchairs can meet each other. There is a music section, where my daughter can reach out and make bells ring and beat the drums. It’s not just play time, but therapy for her.”

The new playground will be completed mid-August after sidewalks are poured, rubber surfacing installed and landscaping done. Assistant Leisure Services Director Kim Meeker said there will be a grand opening event in August.

The new playground will be completed mid-August after sidewalks are poured, rubber surfacing installed and landscaping done. Assistant Leisure Services Director Kim Meeker said there will be a grand opening event in August.

It is the city’s fourth community build which have included Solomon Park, and, more recently Gussie McMillan and Pine Hill parks.

“A community build does build ownership. When you spread that ownership out to 300 or more people like we had here today, you are looking at the beginning of a good relationship,” Meeker said.

Construction on the playground began Monday with assistance from the Playscape Mississippi and Landscape Structures .

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Read one of the ways they raised money for their new playground.

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