Universal playground will benefit many in Shelby County

Published 1:50 pm Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Here in Shelby County, one of the best places in the state and country to live, having a place for your child to play is easy to take for granted. Parks and playgrounds abound no matter what part of the county you call home.

But for parents of children with special needs—and parents with special needs themselves—it’s not so easy.

Mary Allison Cook, a Hoover mother and communications coordinator at Lakeshore Foundation, spoke from her wheelchair to a large group of people on Sept. 19 with this message. Something as simple as dropping her children off at school require meticulous planning and preparation.

“But then I come across places that have done the planning for me. This park is one of those places,” Cook said at a groundbreaking ceremony for the planned EXPLORE playground and splash pad.

The 15,000-square-foot, $2 million park will be located adjacent to the Hoover Met Complex RV park and will be developed with a universal design—to meet the needs of all people regardless of age, gender, ability or change in ability.

“This playground will allow children of different ability levels to play next to one another as well as provide parents the opportunity to play with their children regardless of their abilities,” Hoover Mayor Frank V. Brocato said.

The playground, which is scheduled to be completed in January 2019, will feature a 17-foot clubhouse, active and musical play areas, a variety of swings, textures and bright colors.

The clubhouse will contain a variety of textures, sensory components and a television display to encourage seek-and-find activities throughout the playground. In addition, a 7,000-square-foot fully-inclusive splash pad will be located adjacent to the playground. People of all ability levels will have the opportunity to enjoy playing in the water as well.

Though located just outside Shelby County, the playground will be a wonderful benefit for many families living in the county and the region.

City officials at the ceremony said social media users expressed a willingness to drive several hours to the park once it is completed. We’ll be fortunate to be much closer.

Stephen Dawkins is a staff writer for the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 524 or by email at stephen.dawkins@shelbycountyreporter.com.