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Playground designed for children with special needs opens in New Albany

According to a press release, there are more than 2,200 kids with special needs in the New Albany-Floyd County school system.
Credit: Valmedia - stock.adobe.com

NEW ALBANY, Ind. — After years of development, a new inclusive playground has opened in New Albany.

The Kevin Hammersmith Memorial Park was designed using Me2's "Seven Principles of Inclusive Play" and features play structures that meet the ADA guidelines for accessibility.

In a press release, Floyd County Parks and Recreation Superintendent Roger Jeffers said there are roughly 2,200 children in the New Albany-Floyd County school system who have special needs.

The new park's play equipment comes from GameTime, an organization that "brings play and recreation to people of all ages and abilities."

Some of the inclusive structures in the playground include a Sensory Wave climber, shaded musical instruments, wheelchair accessible turf and ramps, and inclusive swings, slides and zip line.

Credit: Kevin Hammersmith Memorial Park

The idea for an inclusive playground came up in 2017. Jeffers said that one major contributor to getting the project started was 8-year-old Jax Rose.

Jax has Spina Bifida and is paralyzed from the waist down. His mother, Ryann Bond, said that Jax experienced first-hand not being able to play with other kids at parks due to a lack of inclusive play equipment.

"All I want is for him to have friends and to actually be able to play with them and have that normal, child play-time interaction," she said. "And I think this park is gong to make that possible."

Fundraising for the park began in 2018, and with the help of matching donations from the Patronicity and Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, Jeffers said Floyd County residents raised more than $109,000 for the project.

The park officially opens on May 21 at 3 p.m. following a grand opening ceremony. It is located at 4400 Lewis A. Endres Parkway.

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