Friday, October 29, 2010

Cincinnati suburb opens accessible playground

From The Cincinnati Enquirer:

LIBERTY TWP, Ohio -- Kurt and Kristen Feldmann won't have to drive to Mason anymore to find a handicap accessible playground for their wheelchair-bound son Konrad.

Newly installed playground equipment at Dudley Memorial Park will allow his 9-year-old sister Kathryn to push him up a concrete ramp onto a large piece of equipment. It is one of several pieces purchased with a $100,000 Community Development Block Grant.

"Throughout Konrad's life he hasn't been able to walk or run or talk or even play like other children," his father, Kurt, said.

Konrad's cerebral palsy left him non-verbal and with limited use of his arms and legs.

"This is an incredible place to play that reduces barriers and lets him play like other children," said Feldmann, who sits on Liberty Township's Parks Committee. "Ninety percent of this is accessible to Konrad."

His comments came Friday during a ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly installed equipment. It replaced older, non-handicap accessible equipment that no longer meets playground safety standards.

In the past year, similar equipment has been installed in parks in Colerain Township and West Chester Township's Beckett Park.

The new equipment was put together and installed by township workers in a 75-foot by 75-foot area of the 11-acre park. It sits on 12 inches of mulch adjacent to both the parking lot and covered shelter, said Jon West, the township's director of planning and zoning.

West was part of a team of township officials that put together the grant and ordered the GameTime equipment in consultation with Bob Greiwe, who specializes in playground equipment.

"I believe this park will be one of the more popular ones. There are not many blind spots for children to hide in," Feldmann said. "Children don't know it's safe; they just know there's a lot of great playground equipment."

Konrad's sister Kathryn gave the playground two thumbs up after pushing her brother onto the equipment.

"He's heavy," she said with a smile.