Coming soon: Carly’s Clubhouse drawing revealed Oct. 16

Tatum's Garden in Salinas, Calif., is an all-inclusive playground built and designed by Leathers & Associates. Pelham will soon see an all-inclusive playground of its own in Carly's Clubhouse. (Contributed)

Tatum’s Garden in Salinas, Calif., is an all-inclusive playground built and designed by Leathers & Associates. Pelham will soon see an all-inclusive playground of its own in Carly’s Clubhouse. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—The community will get a first glimpse at what Carly’s Clubhouse could look like on Oct. 16. A schematic drawing of the all-inclusive playground will be revealed during a kickoff celebration at 6:30 p.m. at Pelham High School.

“This playground is going to be something to behold,” Pelham Police Officer and project leader Dustin Chandler said.

Chandler was inspired to start Carly’s Clubhouse when he noticed the lack of places for special needs children and typical children to interact and play together on an equal level. Chandler’s daughter Carly suffers from CDKL5 and cannot enjoy a playground in the same way as typical children.

Designed and constructed with the help of custom playground builder, Leathers & Associates, Carly’s Clubhouse will be fully accessible to special needs children and typical children.

“The goal is definitely an all-inclusive, fully accessible playground,” Leathers & Associates Project Manager Kyle Cundy said, adding it will give both special needs and typical children “shoulder to shoulder opportunities” to play together.

Leathers & Associates will work with Valley Elementary School, Valley Intermediate School and Inverness Elementary School students on Oct. 15 and 16 to gather ideas from the children of what they would like to see in a playground.

“We’ll get their input on what’s important to them,” Kundy said. “It’s really fun to get input from their drawings.”

Special Needs Community Coordinator for Carly’s Clubhouse, Susan Lee, is working with students and faculty at the Linda Nolen Learning Center along with therapists and parents of special needs children to gather their ideas for the playground through surveys.

“The survey responses have been very interesting and exciting,” Lee said. “The ideas are endless.”

Answers have varied from large-scale equipment, such as an accessible merry-go-round, to practical needs, such as shaded play areas and bathrooms with full-length changing tables.

“I want to see a safe place for all kids to play together,” Lee said.

Leathers & Associates will then put all the ideas gathered into a schematic drawing of the playground and reveal it during a project kickoff celebration on Oct. 16.

“We want everybody to show up,” Chandler said, adding the celebration will be a “kid-friendly environment” with a “pep rally” feel.

Carly’s Clubhouse will be the first playground of its kind in Alabama. It will be located in Pelham City Park, likely on the site of the existing playground, Pelham City Council President Rick Hayes said.

“We want to be the leaders in the special needs community,” Chandler said. “It really is going to be a life-changing experience for everyone involved.”