The Salina Regional Health Foundation has begun initial site preparation for a new inclusive playground at the northeast corner of Fourth and Center streets in central Salina.
A $1.246 million “All-In, Let’s Play” campaign to construct the project is under way and completion is planned for the spring of 2019. Several local and area foundations, businesses and individuals have already stepped forward to support the project raising $1,025,819 toward the campaign goal.
“The campaign is off to a good start, but the last dollars of any campaign are often the most difficult to account for,” said Tom Martin, executive director of the foundation. “We would like to have broad-based community support and will gratefully accept donations of any size.”
Inclusive playgrounds create an environment where those with diverse abilities, needs, ages and interests can be included in the activities. Aside from an inclusive playground at Coronado Elementary School, there are no other playgrounds located in Salina specifically designed for those with disabilities.
The 3.3 acre site already owned by the foundation ties in well with downtown redevelopment and Smoky Hill River renewal efforts already under way. The property will be owned and maintained by the foundation and open to the public once completed.
The play area will include many traditional favorites such as slides, swings and jungle gyms all adapted for children with special needs. It also will include a unique piece of equipment called the Yalp Sona, which features a large orange arch that issues visual and auditory commands for children to play a variety of interactive games.
The project also includes a quarter-mile, rubberized running and walking trail that will wind around the park allowing adults to see their children anywhere on the playground. Other adult-friendly fitness structures, landscaping, parking and lighting are included in the design.
Sid and Susy Reitz of Salina have a special interest in the project.
“Olivia, our six-year-old granddaughter, has used a motorized wheelchair since she was a toddler,” Susy said. “When an inclusive playground similar to the one being designed for Center Street opened in Leawood we saw firsthand the sheer joy and excitement of Olivia, and children of all abilities, playing and interacting together on a playground they all could enjoy. We hope you will join us in making it possible for Salina area children to experience this same joy.”