Fundraiser towards building playground for kids with special needs

Fernanda Hurtado | Staff Writer

With help and the support of the city of Mason, the Mason Parks & Recreation Foundation has been working toward building an inclusive playground called Common Ground.  On June 9 the Mason Community Center joined the foundation by hosting the Run, Roll and Sun 5K and one-mile fundraiser towards building the playground.

According to Mason Community Center Wellness supervisor Kelly Burchett there isn’t anywhere where a kid in a wheelchair can go and play the same way other kids can.

“[Kids in wheelchairs] have to stay on the ground, they can’t get up on to the second level of any structure,” Burchett said. “…So it will really help out Mason and the surrounding area…to give kids with special needs a place that they can play just like any other kids at a playground. The playground is planned to have a platform where they can wheel the chair on and swing back and forth.”

Burchett said her primary goal is keeping the community well.

“Doing a 5K is a great way to get people out as a community to see our parks and have a good time as a family, while also doing a wellness opportunity,” Burchett said. “So partnering with the Parks Foundation for such a great cause was kind of natural because that is wellness for special needs kids too. The city of Mason is all about wellness in our community through our Live Well in Mason partnership with TriHealth and this is just one way we can get people to think wellness is fun.”

According to Missy Tripp, mother of a son in a wheelchair, the playground would be valuable because her son would get to play with other kids and do things he wouldn’t normally get to do in other playgrounds.

“We have been coming to this event for about three years now for the purpose of building the playground,” Tripp said. “I think its is going to be great for the community, for everybody, disabled or not, and I think it will just bring everybody together.”

Melissa Schaedig, Mason parent and supporter of Common Ground, recently found out that her daughter of 15 months is going to have special needs growing up and said that this event is a fantastic way to support that.

“Right now my daughter is kind of undiagnosed because she is so young,” Schaedig said. “But she has got Hypotonia, which is decreased muscles tone in her whole body, meaning she is delayed in her growth motor skills. I heard about this event…[and] I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”

Mason Parks and Recreation Foundation Vice President Sally Le Cras said that Common Ground is going to be designed to meet the needs for residents, and kids and adults with special needs. She said that disabled children usually are not able to enjoy park activities.

Le Cras said she hopes to raise enough money for the playground to be built by 2014.

“The 5K and one-mile walk have been an annual event,” Le Cras said. “We are doing our first triathlon also here at Lou Eves Municipal Pool on June 30, which will hopefully be a big event for the foundation, and we are also going to local businesses to try to get more funding. We have a third of the funding to build the park, we have the land ready on Reading Road [and] 42, with an access road already built so what we still need is the money to build the park and its facilities so we are really hoping that this will be our big fundraiser of the year.”

Although the foundation spends their efforts on other events for kids with special needs, Le Cras said its primary focus is fundraising for the playground.

“Eventually once the park is built we will spend our efforts doing more things at other parks but at the moment we also sponsor children and families at the Community Center to have memberships where they have financial or special needs,” Le Cras said. “There are other things the foundation does but the primary focus of our fundraising efforts right now is Common Ground.”

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