It’s here: Carly’s Clubhouse design revealed

Published 9:54 pm Thursday, October 16, 2014

A piece of the conceptual sketch of Carly's Clubhouse from Leathers and Associates. (Contributed)

A piece of the conceptual sketch of Carly’s Clubhouse from Leathers and Associates. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—After gathering input from more than 1,000 children and community members from both the typical and special needs community, the schematic drawing of Carly’s Clubhouse was revealed during a celebration at Pelham High School on Oct. 16.

Children gathered to get a better look at the design for Carly's Clubhouse at the reveal celebration on Oct. 16. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

Children gathered to get a better look at the design for Carly’s Clubhouse at the reveal celebration on Oct. 16. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

Created by Jim Houghton with custom playground company Leathers & Associates, the design includes tunnels, a two-story rocket ship, a “twisty slide,” a rock wall, bridges and, at the heart of the playground, a two-floor clubhouse.

And the best part: it’s all-inclusive and fully accessible, allowing typical children and special needs children to “play shoulder to shoulder,” Pelham Police officer and driving force behind Carly’s Clubhouse, Dustin Chandler, said.

Chandler’s daughter, Carly, was diagnosed with CDKL5, a rare and serious neurological disorder that causes seizures.

“Carly will more than likely never walk, talk or feed herself,” Chandler said. “It’s not fair for Carly not to be able to play on common ground with her siblings and friends.”

The all-inclusive playground, Carly’s Clubhouse, will give Carly and every member of the community, both typical and special needs, a place to play together.

“Be together. That’s our theme,” Special Needs coordinator for Carly’s Clubhouse Susan Lee said. “We want to play together.”

The schematic drawing incorporated ideas from students of Valley Elementary School, Valley Intermediate School and Inverness Elementary School gathered during design days held by Leathers & Associates on Oct. 15 and 16.

“We had a blast the past two days with the kids,” Pelham PTO member and head of fundraising for Carly’s Club House, Kelly Windham said. “It really gets the gears turning. (The kids were) trying to come up with ideas to make things more accessible for their friends.”

In addition, Lee gathered nearly 100 surveys from the special needs community, including responses from students, parents, teachers and therapists.

“Everyone seems to want to be involved at some level,” Lee said.

The entire project is community driven and community funded, Chandler explained. There numerous opportunities to get involved and help out with Carly’s Clubhouse, from holding a fundraiser to helping build.

“It’s custom designed and it’s community built,” Leathers & Associates Project Manager Kyle Cundy said. “ We just want this to be an amazing place for kids to come play.”

More information about the project and how to get involved can be found on the Carly’s Clubhouse Facebook page.