Civitan members have worked tirelessly for three years on the HandiPark located next to George R. Stuart Elementary School. Cleveland was the first city to have a playground that met the requirements and guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Their goal was to once again meet the seven Principles of Inclusive Playground Design.
David Cummings, Civitan president and chair of the committee, said weather and use caused wear and tear on the original HandiPark built nearly 25 years ago. The club has worked alongside members of the community and GameTime, a division of Chattanooga based playground manufacturer PlayCore, to achieve their goal.
“We now know it is best for children with special needs to play and interact with different abilities,” Cummings said. “Playgrounds aren’t just for children. Children come here with various caregivers and this is intended to allow everyone to participate.”
Cummings said the playground is complete. Further work is scheduled to be done on the parking lot and landscaping. The parking lot will have at least two handicapped-dedicated parking spaces. According to a Civitan press release, this will allow loading and unloading without being parked along streets. Sidewalks have been incorporated into the design to allow for easy access from the parking lot to the playground.
Ann Marie Brewer, Civitan member, said the new park would be known as, “Cleveland Civitan Inclusive Playground: A playground for everyone! Accessible to all!” The new playground meets the seven Principles of Inclusive Playground Design. These include: be fair, be included, be smart, be independent, be safe, be active, and be comfortable. Civitan members stressed the focus of the park will be safety, comfort and fun.
Members of the community and donors to the playground came to Wednesday’s park dedication. Included among the guests were Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis and Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland. Adam Lowe, county commissioner, spoke for the county.
“At the end of the day, Civitan understands quality of life. Quality of life says this: When we do for those who can’t do for themselves, we do for ourselves indirectly,” Lowe said. “There are so many underserved, and at best, forgotten populations. Civitan has taken the initiative to address those needs.”
Brewer said Lowe was instrumental in the club receiving funding for the project.
Rowland presented Cummings with a certificate announcing Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, as Cleveland Civitan Day. Donors of the program were presented with certificates by the Civitan Club. The club raised $170,000. Among the largest donors who contributed $50,000 were the George R. Johnson Family Foundation, Bradley County and Healthy Community Initiative and Don Ledford Automotive Center.