A wheelchair swing and an accessible merry-go-round are some of the new adaptable features at Basil A. Marella Park in the town of Greece that will allow more playtime for families with kids with disabilities.
Endless Highway, an organization that provides inclusive sports and recreational opportunities, partnered with the town of Greece to make the upgrades at the park.
The initiative began last year to help a local student, Santii Patel, raise money for a wheelchair swing at one of the Town's parks. The project morphed into a fully accessible playground after Endless Highway helped raise $50,000 for a We-Go-Round®, a merry-go-round structure with wide openings to allow wheelchair users to operate it. The town provided the rest of the funding.
Endless Highway founder Rob Tortorella said inclusive playgrounds helps address physical and social barriers for kids of all abilities.
"It's not just giving kids with disabilities and their families an opportunity to participate in recreational activities, or sports or the arts, but it's allowing them to participate with all kids, Tortorella said."
The project took about a year and a half to complete, and has been received well by residents. Tortorella said some officials from other towns have been reaching out to partner for future inclusive playground projects.
Caralie Fennessey, director of operations for Endless Highway, said their next project will focus on bringing the initiative to the city of Rochester to assist low-income families and communities of color.
"We did a two-day training, all about the importance of inclusion, inclusive language, how to include in your program, and out of that, one of the women who, who runs part of the recreation department, asked about potentially doing a build to include campaign with the city of Rochester, which is definitely our next priority," Fennessey said.
Endless Highway will celebrate the park's upgrade with an event at Marella Park on Sunday, Sept. 19, from 2 to 5 p.m. You can register here for the free event.
This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk
April Franklin covers disabilities and housing. She can be reached at email@example.com.