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By Angela Easter
On May 17th, volunteers built a brand new playground in Ormewood Park in just one day. The new play equipment was debuted May 21st on the grounds of Ormewood Park Presbyterian Church and The Ormewood School at 1071 Delaware Avenue SE.
The new playground provides walkable access to a safe play space for hundreds of neighborhood children. The Ormewood School will also use the playground as an outdoor classroom space for learning and creating art. The new equipment, featuring swings and slides from manufacturer Landscape Solutions and Architectural Design Specialties, is a notable improvement over temporary plastic play sets formerly in place. “When the kids see this, they’re just going to love it,” commented David Carlson, an Ormewood Park parent who helped install the new play equipment.
The project was awarded a $15,000 KaBOOM! grant and a $13,500 grant by The Neighborhood Fund. “The Neighborhood Fund, an initiative of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, is proud to support Ormewood Park and the playground,” says Tene Traylor, senior program officer at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. “This effort exemplifies the power of neighbors focused and energized in collective hope and intention to support youth activities, safety and community building.”
Local businesses and individual donors have also been very supportive of the project, donating over $12,000 in the first phase of fundraising. Money raised in the second phase of fundraising will pay for more improvements like solid rubber playground surfacing and more play equipment next year.
A hallmark of the new playground is the incorporation of universal design so that children of all abilities and ages can play together. For instance, a ramp leading to one of the structures offers wheelchair access and the roller slide offers much needed sensory stimulation. A parent of three children, including Damian, who has special needs & cerebral palsy, neighborhood parent Alison Caputo says having a playground in Ormewood Park that incorporates accessible features is a dream come true. “The best part is that the handicapped features aren’t even noticeable. All children can access the equipment and no one child is playing on the ‘special’ equipment,” she points out. “It has been difficult for our family to find a playground that all three of our children can play on together without our son sitting on the sidelines. The Ormewood Community Playground is inclusive in all meanings of the word. It is inclusive for our son with special needs, our typical children, and we as a family all feel truly included in our community.”
Ormewood Park and surrounding communities began enjoying the new playground with a celebratory ceremony where Damian Caputo served as the ribbon cutter. Dozens of neighborhood children rushed to try out the new disc swings and roller slide. “We’re worked so hard because every kid needs access to a safe and engaging place to play,” says project volunteer Jennifer Wilcox. “Creating great play spaces makes for happier children who ultimately become fitter, smarter and more creative.”
The playground’s next phase includes installation of the tile mosaic facing the entrance, along with another round of fundraising for solid surfacing and additional equipment. Inscribed tiles in the mosaic are still available, and donors who wish to order one should email Cindy Cahalen at email@example.com. For more information about the Ormewood Community Playground initiative, visit http://www.facebook.com/OrmewoodCommunityPlayground.