Tom Brooks
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Imagine a place where people of all ages and physical abilities can enjoy fun and challenging play activities side-by-side.

That is the goal of the new “inclusive playground” that will be built at Richardson’s Cottonwood Park at the site of an existing, but aging, playground facility. The effort is a collaboration between the City of Richardson and the Richardson East Rotary Club.

The Rotary club and the City have launched a fund-raising drive entitled Make It Happen to bridge the gap between the money the City has for a new playground and the increased cost to make it inclusive. The goal is to provide a play atmosphere that will be a challenge and provide access to children and adults of all physical abilities. Inclusive playground equipment is more expensive than standard playground equipment, as are the “poured-in-place” surfaces that provide the best access for people with physical challenges.

Richardson East Rotary Club (RERC), through its foundation, is collaborating with the City to raised $250,000 to bridge the gap between funds currently available and the total cost of the new facility.

Please go here to donate on Sept. 14. If you are not available that day, you can donate via the same link beginning Sept. 7 through Sept. 14.

 “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.

Inclusive playgrounds have become a core service provided by many cities. The concept fits a stated goal of Richardson to be an inclusive city.

North Texas Giving Day is the Communities Foundation of Texas' annual 18-hour online giving extravaganza for North Texas nonprofits. It has generated more than $156 million for more than 2,500 local nonprofits. In 2016, $37 million was raised through more than 142,000 gifts benefiting 2,518 nonprofits.

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