SIDNEY — Imagine if you can …
You’re at Geib Pavilion with your child or grandchild … you hear the sounds of his or her laughter as they swing higher and higher on the swing at the playground. You smile as you watch the child having fun on the sunny, summer day.
Then you suddenly hear a quiet sob near you. You turn to look and see a small child – the same size as the child on the swing – watching and knowing they will never be able to get on the swing and have that type of fun.
Why? Because the child is in a wheelchair and the swing at the park isn’t built to accommodate a wheelchair.
Thanks to a campaign started by the Rotary Club of Sidney and the Kiwanis Club of Sidney, that scene will soon disappear from Geib Pavilion. The two service clubs are spearheading a drive to build an all inclusive community playground at Geib Pavilion in Tawawa Park. Projected completion date of the project is in the fall of 2019. The estimated cost of the project is $160,000, with Rotary and Kiwanis each pledging $10,000 for the project.
“Scott Barr (United Way executive director) had reached out to me six months about building an all inclusive play area,” said Duane Gaier, Sidney Parks and Recreation director and Sidney Rotary Club president. “We did some research and had a sales representative put together the first concept for the playground.
“I took it to the Rotary board and they thought it was a good idea,” said Gaier. “We thought it would be a good project for both clubs. The next day Jessica (Guillozet, Shelby County Board of DD community connections facilitator and Kiwanis Club member) called me the next day before I could even reach out to her about the project.”
With Guillozet firmly on board, she approached the Shelby County Board of DD therapists and other people associated with the program on what would make a great inclusive playground.
“I asked them what type equipment they would like to see at the playground,” said Guillozet, who can’t contain her excitement about the project. “I saw emotion and passion from the therapists to make this playground the best it can be.
“There’s a reason behind everything in the park,” said Guillozet. “From the equipment, to the lines drawn on the playground, everything will help with a child’s development.”
Various types of equipment will be found at the new playground.
The roller table, she said, will help the child pull themselves up and move back and forth. This will help them build their upper body strength, she said. The roller table allows the child to enjoy creative play, auditory stimulation, tactile feedback and calming sensory input.
The rock and raft, said Guillozet, allows children in wheelchairs to roll onto the equipment. The rock and raft glides as those sitting in it work together to make it move.
“They can get up into it on a ramp,” she said. “Four other people can also sit in it. Or you can transfer someone in the wheelchair to a seat.”
There will be an expression swing at the playground. The swing allows adults and children to swing together. The swing has a face-to-face design so the parent can see their child’s expression as they swing.
Other items for the proposed playground include an arch swing, which allows up to five children to swing on it. It has a soft rubber bumper and children with sensory processing disorders or other sensory issues can lay across the center section and be calmed by the to-and-fro motion.
A shadow play flower is also planned. The flower catches the sun’s light and shadows are created on the ground. The child or adult can turn the handle at the base and the panels rotate, casting a rainbow of colors on the ground.
The rubber surface of the playground will make it easy to push wheelchairs from one piece of equipment to another.
“Various colors of the rubber surface will be poured,” said Guillozet. “This will be good as parents can tell their children to stay in one specific color to play in.”
There will also be a protective fall zone around the equipment.
“The lines around the playground area will be wide,” said Guillozet. “Kids love walking on the lines. And the different zones will be colored coded. All the swings will be in the green area.”
“This is going to be a great place for the kids to take off and have fun,” said Gaier.
Both Guillozet and Gaier said there is room for growth for the playground in the future.
“This is a community park,” said Gaier. “We’re looking for people to help us build it by donating their time next year.”
The park, said Gaier, is for typical and atypical children.
“It’s for children of all abilities,” said Gaier. “If a child needs help, they can sit across from a sibling who is helping them. We want all kids to interact with each other at the playground.”
Donations for the project are being accepted said the pair. Anyone who donates more than $500 will have their name included on a recognition rock.
Donations to the project are tax deductible. The different levels of donations are bronze, $100-499; silver, $500-999; gold, $1,000-9,999; and platinum, $10,000 and above.
Guillozet is also applying for grants to assist with the construction of the playground.
The Community Foundation of Shelby County will handle the funds donated for the project, said Gaier.
Anyone wishing to donate to the project can send a check made payable to the Community Foundation of Shelby County with “Sidney Inclusive Playground” written in the memo line. Checks can be sent to the foundation at 100 S. Main Ave., Suite 202, Sidney, OH 45365.
For more information about the project, contact Gaier at 937-498-8105 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.