Boundless playground nears completion

The Helena Kiwanis Club is only a few weeks away from construction of the final phase of its boundless playground.

&8220;It is designed not to give boundaries to children who are handicapped,&8221; said member Callie Waldrop. &8220;It&8217;s not only for safety concerns, but the woodchips and rubber matting accommodates wheelchairs and walkers for easy access.&8221;

The group needed $150,000 to purchase playground materials and equipment. Within two weeks of ordering the equipment, they received more than enough grant money to cover the costs. Now construction dates are set for the weekend of June 22-23, and they are looking for volunteers to help finish the project.

Ben Steltenpole has been working on the playground project since he moved to Helena and joined Kiwanis.

&8220;Children with disabilities typically can&8217;t play and enjoy themselves and grow developmentally on a typical playground,&8221; Steltenpole said.

But this is not your typical swing set and sandbox.

Each phase of the project works to build skills at different levels. The Alpha phase consisted of a sand area for infants and toddlers to slowly work on motor skills.

The Beta, or second phase, works more with 2 to 5-year-olds who are trying to build their senses.

&8220;Every piece of equipment is supposed to stimulate some type of development,&8221; Waldrop said.

The final Gamma phase is designed to push children to reach a higher skill level.

&8220;This part consists of a more physical development with wheelchair access all the way through,&8221; Steltenpole said. &8220;There are also handles, knobs, levers and mirrors that will help them develop physically.&8221;

Boundless playgrounds are being built in several cities around the state as part of an initiative begun by the state Kiwanis Governor in 2003.

Originally the vision was for three parks &045;&045; one in north Alabama, one in central Alabama and one in south Alabama.

The total cost of the facility was around $375,000; the special surfacing alone was around $50,000.

Anyone interested in volunteering to help build the final phase can contact Callie Waldrop at 620-3710.