The City of Richardson and Richardson East Rotary Club (RERC) are teaming up to develop plans, increase public awareness and raise additional funds needed to enhance the building of the City’s first inclusive playground. This exciting venture aims to create a play environment that increases “playability” for people of diverse abilities. The playground will be located on the site of the existing playground in Cottonwood Park and is in the preliminary stages of development.
Cottonwood Park’s existing playground is already scheduled for replacement through the City’s 2015 G.O. Bond program. Inclusive playground elements can be added as an enhancement through grants and corporate/philanthropic support from the community.
This includes RERC’s upcoming fundraising event, “Rotary Cares Games and Gala,” which will be held Saturday, Feb. 25. RERC will also be hosting a “Champagne, Cupcakes & Lemonade” event Thursday, March 30 at the Kendra Scott jewelry store in Allen, with 20 percent of sales going to support the inclusive playground. For more information about these fundraisers or how donations can be made in support of this important initiative through RERC’s Foundation, visit www.richardsonrotary.org.
Inclusive playgrounds make a fundamental statement about how a community values meaningful play experiences for people of all ages and abilities. Although inclusive playgrounds are a bigger undertaking and require more planning and funding, they are a space that everyone can share, which benefits the entire community. Inclusive playgrounds are becoming a core service provided by many cities locally and nationwide, and are in line with the City Council’s 2015-17 Statement of Goals, which includes a vision of Richardson being an inclusive community.
“All of Richardson’s playgrounds meet the minimum standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act for accessibility, but ‘accessible’ is not always equivalent to ‘inclusive,’” said Richardson Director of Parks and Recreation Lori Smeby. “An accessible playground allows individuals with disabilities to use parts of the park, but we are taking it a step further and creating an inclusive playground that will ensure all children, and the adults that may come with them, regardless of ability, can play together.”
The first of its kind in Richardson, this playground will be a free, outdoor, safe and inclusive play environment. It will encompass sensory-rich structures designed to engage children of all ages and create a unique and meaningful community environment.
Over the past year, a joint committee of Parks staff and RERC members toured existing playgrounds and developed a project mission and timeline. Future plans include reviewing concepts from playground manufacturers, determining the preferred design concept and financial goal, and launching fundraising efforts, with a goal of completing the project in 2018.
“The Richardson East Rotary Club is proud to partner with the City on this important initiative,” said Bill Zeigler, president of Richardson East Rotary Club. “Helping to raise money for the community’s first inclusive playground is in line with Rotary’s mission of providing ‘Service Above Self’ and bringing people together to make positive, lasting change in communities.”
The RERC will also be organizing an annual community picnic to promote the playground, and will design, plant and maintain a landscape garden adjacent to the site. Richardson East Rotary Club recently adopted this effort as its “signature” community service project.
About the City of Richardson
Known globally for its high-tech business leadership, the City of Richardson also offers a high quality of life, diverse array of neighborhoods, convenient Metroplex location, multi-modal transportation infrastructure and outstanding City services. Richardson has been repeatedly recognized as one of the top places to live and work by the national media, and the City remains dedicated to continuous improvement, as well as to the principles of open government and two-way communications with residents. To learn more, visit www.cor.net.
About the Richardson East Rotary Club
The Richardson East Rotary Club (RERC) was founded in 1985. It tried several fund raising projects with modest success until launching a Casino Night in 1995. The club ran 20 of those before changing the name this year to Rotary Cares to emphasize its causes and provide activities to supplement casino-style activities. The club has a history of partnering with the City of Richardson, and the Parks and Recreation Department including being a Santa’s Village sponsor and Leadership Grove on the grounds of the Richardson Civic Center.