Government tries crowd funding for new inclusive playground

Constructing a Utica District Park playground accessible to disabled children is estimated to cost about $120,000, but officials are not waiting and wishing for money from the county.

They’re not depending on state or federal grant dollars or even banking on a public-private partnership to make the park a reality.

Instead, they’ve issued an appeal to the Internet to see if online generosity could present a new solution for dealing with tight county budgets.

The money-gathering effort for the Utica park playground represents the county’s first foray into crowdfunding, or waging online campaigns to raise money for a project.

The concept of crowdfunding was popularized by the website Kickstarter, which links artists and entrepreneurs with online donors willing to patronize their creative work. However, an increasing number of local governments are seizing on the same idea as they seek innovative ways of bankrolling public projects.


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Fundraising Ideas for accessible playgrounds

Lately, there has been a whole bunch of interesting fundraising projects happening around the country.  Grab a great new idea and share with us what you have been doing to raise funds.

In the Chicago Area, the Lincolnshire Special Recreation Area help a jumpfest.  They sent up 7 inflatables and kids paid a $10 fee to jump for as long as they wanted.  If you want information on how they did it email http:jump// or call (815) 603-4377. For more information about the Lincolnway Special Recreation Association, call (815) 320-3500 or visit

Speaking of jumping, Carly’s Clubhouse in Alabama, held a special Valentine’s Day Parent’s Night Out. Parents could drop their children off at Pump It Up.  The kids got to play in the inflatable area, watch a movie and play games, eat donated pizza and there was plenty of Pump It up employees supervising the event.  It cost $25 per child.

Carly’s Clubhouse also held a concert called “A night of legends”.  Elvis, Patsy Cline, Aretha Franklin impersonators took the stage for the evening.  There was children’s activities, a cash bar, and a great raffle. The concert was free but donations were collected and they raised $10,000.  For more information, visit

A group in Teaneck, NJ are raising money for an accessible sprayground, was the reciepent of the funds raised by the  Teaneck Women’s Soccer League’s annual charity soccer game.  They also have put donation boxes in local stores and have plans for a spring Zumba fundraiser.  For more information, email or visit

Clifford Bowey Public School in Ottawa has rallied the community in a variety of ways to support their new playground.  They won a contest with the highest number of votes.  They also had a swim-a-thon and a community dinner with a silent auction. To learn more, visit To view Lambert-Tocchi’s video taken the day the school learned it won the Aviva Community Fund prize, visit

Inclusive Playground Awards 2013

It is the time of year for award shows. The People’s Choice Awards and the Golden Globes have come and gone. The nominations for the Oscars were  and will be awarded in March. And today I am announcing my first Inclusive Playground awards! Many exciting things happened in 2013 that we should all celebrate. These events are paving the way for even more exciting playground openings, new equipment, and stronger movements for inclusive play in 2014. So here are the 2013 Inclusive Playground Awards…

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Casey's Clubhouse in Grapeville, TX--Best New Playground of 2013
Casey’s Clubhouse in Grapeville, TX–Best New Playground of 2013
Harper's Playground wins Playground with the Biggest Impact
Harper’s Playground wins Playground with the Biggest Impact
Shane's Inspiration wins Non Profit with the Most New Playgrounds Opened in 2013 including this one in Cuenca, Ecuador.
Shane’s Inspiration wins Non Profit with the Most New Playgrounds Opened in 2013 including this one in Cuenca, Ecuador. Equipment by Landscape Structures


Touched by Olivia won International Non Profit with the Biggest Impact for their Australia Inclusion Network
Touched by Olivia won International Non Profit with the Biggest Impact for their Australia Inclusion Network
Kenosha Dream Playground Project won Best use of social media by an Inclusive Playground Project
Kenosha Dream Playground Project won Best use of social media by an Inclusive Playground Project
The Triumph Climber by Playworld Systems won the best new piece of inclusive equipment for 2013
The Triumph Climber by Playworld Systems won the best new piece of inclusive equipment for 2013


Matteo's Dream (a playground project by Leathers and Associations in CA) won float in the Rose Bowl
Matteo’s Dream (a playground project by Leathers and Associations in CA) won float in the Rose Bowl


Unlike other award programs, there was only one person voting with these awards—me. Please share with us other amazing work that happened in the last year to promote inclusive play.  Who else do you think should be honored for their work in 2013?

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The Play and Playground News Center

Proposed Sensory Garden and Inclusive Playground undertakes fundraising

The Wheaton, IL Park District, Western DuPage Special Recreation Association, Kiwanis Club of Wheaton, and the Forest Preserve of DuPage County have come together to create a new and unique Sensory Garden and Inclusive Playground.  They have big plans, which include:

  • A playground area
  • A sound and scent garden
  • Water play
  • A shelter and restroom building to accommodate extended visits.
  • An accessible baseball field, to allow children of all abilities to have the traditional ballfield experience

In order to build this the group is undertaking a variety of fundraising.  They are looking for corporations and individuals to sponsor specific section of the playspace.  They have put together a nice brochure explaining the sponsorship opportunities.

They had a spring bulb sale using Flower Power.

They partnered with a new business in town. Nothing Bundt Cakes celebrated their grand opening by donating 20% of their proceeds to the Sensory Garden project.  The planning group also used this opportunity as an informational event.  They had volunteers at the bakery throughout the opening weekend to answer questions about the playground and to generate excitement.

They have found on-line contests where they have engaged the community to vote for this project.  They tried for the Discover The Forest and Get Your Community Outdoors grant and while they did not win, they were able to generate additional community support.

Learn more about this project at their website and Like them on Facebook 

Share with us unique ways that you have raised funds for your playground!

Children’s book raises money for inclusive playground

ONE Park For ALL is a story of a little girl, her mother, and a town that decided to make a difference. This book is meant to teach!  It helps both children and adults understand the obstacles that some children encounter when they go to a park that is not all inclusive.

One of many projects for Hope Park Frisco has been this children’s book, One Park for All. Authored by Kristan Olfers and illustrated by Karen Dodson, the book serves several purposes.

It tells about the origins of the playground named Hope Park: “As with many great stories this one begins with a mother’s love for her child and her hope for a brighter future…” the book starts out.

It also explains in easy to understand terms the need for a playground that’s accessible to all children, highlighting some of the features useful to children with special needs.

Proceeds from the book go toward Hope Park, which will be built by the community in Frisco Commons park. Books are available online through Hope Park Frisco and

A sample page of "One Park For All" to support an inclusive playground


Park Hope is  boundless in it’s design and will be like no other park in Frisco.   This park will be designed, paid for, and built by  — the community of Frisco.   It will include play areas for children with special needs.  It will have new and exciting play equipment not yet seen in any Frisco parks.  It will go beyond monkey bars, slides and simulated climbing rocks.  It will truly be an inclusive play adventure!  It is expected to open in Spring 2013.  The community will be building the playground through a week-long community build in the middle of April.

Conceptual drawing of Park Hope, an inclusive playground designed by Leathers and Associates

Great videos on the importance of accessible playgrounds

The Magical Bridge will be a playground in Palo Alto, CA.  The mission of the organizing committee is to provide a playground where families of all abilities can experience.  They have done a great job defining the need for a new playground from both the stand point of a child with a disabilities and an adult using a wheelchair in these videos:

Dreaming of Playgrounds

The Magical Bridge

Unique Fundraiser for Accessible Playground “Bowling Down the Barriers”

By Sara Feijo/Wicked Local Dedham

Organizers are hoping a bowling fundraiser at Dedham Kings will raise enough money to construct Dedham’s first fully accessible playground at Condon Park on Bussey Street.

“Basically we’re shooting for the moon,” said Laurie Reisner, who is organizing “Bowling Down the Barriers” with her husband, Donald. “We’re hoping to raise at least $12,000.”

Donald Reisner, who ran for a one-year term on the Parks and Recreation Commission in April and lost to Chuck DelloIacono, said he decided to organize the fundraiser when he noticed that the swings at the playground the only wheelchair accessible feature.

In January, the Mitigation Committee awarded organizers with $150,000 to build the new playground, which motivated them to proceed with the fundraiser, he said.

“Once we got the $150,000 from the Mitigation (Committee) we knew we were in the area of where we wanted,” he said. “It really gave us the motivation to complete this.”

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Young professionals will pass the hat at “Cars” to raise money for an inclusive playground

In Kearney, NE the community has done a fabulous job raising funds for their new accessible playground.  They are down to needing less than $20,000.   The Kearney Young Professionals Network came up with an interesting idea to make a dent in the final push.

They will show the Pixar movie “Cars” in the park and invited families to come and enjoy a fun family event by watching a movie in the park.  The Professional Network will sell  concessions during the movie and then  literally pass the hat asking people to make a donation to the playground that all of their children will be playing on.

We commend everyone in Kearney for raising over $300,000 for a new accessible playground.  If you are in the area on August 6th, go enjoy a movie and throw your change (bills and checks) in the hat!

New grants available for surfacing for playgrounds in Ontario

On May 30, 2011 Ontario Tire Stewardship (OTS) will officially launched its Community Grant Program. The program awards eligible Ontario-based communities and organizations up to $50,000 towards the purchase and installation of Ontario-manufactured recycled rubber products such as rubber mulch, roof shingles and sidewalk tiles – which helps the environment while supporting Ontario’s economy.

The Community Grant Program encourages Ontario communities and organizations to think green, when planning their projects; build green, by using recycled rubber products; and grow green, by using products made by Ontario recyclers and manufacturers. The grant is open to municipalities, registered non-profit community groups or organizations, schools/colleges/universities, and First Nations communities throughout Ontario. To qualify, projects must use products made from Ontario recycled rubber and be completed within 12 months of approval. The applicant must contribute an amount equal to or exceeding the grant requested (to a maximum of $20,000) to the project. This contribution may be in the form of in-kind or other contracted services.

Eligible projects fall under two categories:

•       “Granular Products” such as mulch for landscaping or playgrounds, crumb rubber (whether black or colored) and pour-in-place products are eligible for grants of $70/tonne of Ontario recycled rubber, up to $25,000;

•       Manufactured Products such as patio tiles, sidewalks, athletic surfacing, roof shingles, underlayment, sub-flooring and others are eligible for grants of $110/tonne of Ontario recycled rubber, up to $50,000.

To raise awareness for this innovative environmental campaign, OTS will promote winning projects through activities such as on-site signage, website postings, printed materials and trade shows. Outreach to the media and relevant trade associations begam the week of May 30. Information about the Community Grant Program, including the application process, will be live  at or can be obtained by e-mailing effective May 30. Applicants are encouraged to engage directly with suppliers to assess the opportunities to source recycled rubber products made by Ontario companies with tires from the Ontario Used Tires Program.  One company that qualifies is one of’s sponsors: SofSurfaces

Please contact Andrew Horsman or Susanne Robins, OTS Director of Promotion and Education ,if you have any questions.

New Fundraising Ideas for raising money to build Accessible Playgrounds

In Alva, OK the children of Washington Elementary School raised money by asking community members to donate $1 towards their new playground.

When the local women’s group heard about what the students did on their own, they decided to hold their own fundraiser.  They set up Easter Pictures.  They found a local photographer to donate her time. Each session lasted between 10 and 20 minutes, allowing time for multiple pictures and poses for each child. An un-edited CD of all the pictures and a copyright release was available later in the week for parents to pick up. They raised $700.

Brooklyn’s Playground in Pocatello, ID held a Laser Tag Challenge.  People put teams together of 12 people to compete against each other.  Each person on the team paid $10 to participate with all of the money going to the playground project.

In Wisconsin Rapids, WI the ACT Now Playground held a golf outing and put together a recipe book and sold it.

The Socastee Heritage Foundation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is having a big party to commemorate it’s 300th birthday. They hope the proceeds from the event will help build a more accessible playground for special needs kids at Socastee Elementary School.  The Spring  Festival included a Walking Children’s Parade, Living History Exhibits, Antique Tractor Show, Vendors, Catfish Tournament, 5k Run/Walk, Performing Groups, Bands, Inflatables, Children’s Games and Contests & Raffles.

The Partnership for Children of Johnston County, NC  is hosting a fundraising event to support the Partnership to Build a Miracle League field and an inclusive playground. The Fourth Annual Partnership for Children Beach Ball was held at the local country club. Tickets were $50 each and include heavy hors d’oeuvres and two tickets for beer or wine.

Shuswap Rotary Club in Salmon Arms, Alberta is having a Pennies from Heaven fundraiser. You purchase a coin from local merchants. At the closing day of the Salmon Arm Fall Fair club members expect to be dropping all the sold coins from a hot air balloon onto a large target. The closest coin to the center will win a cash jackpot. For more information on this innovative event, contact Lynda Wilson, Shuswap Rotary president at 250- 833-4035 or Sherry Gilroy Shuswap Rotary vice president at 250-803-6745 or Doug Leatherdale at 250-832 2850.