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'A dream come true'
Facility gives all children a place to play
Sunday, August 13, 2006
BY JERRY L. GLEASON
Of The Patriot-News
Reilly Johnson no longer has to watch from the sidelines as
other children have fun swinging, working their way to the top of
a treehouse or building sand castles.
Despite being in a wheelchair, Reilly can use all of the
facilities at the new
"It's very cool," Reilly, 8, said. "There are
lots of things I can do here."
Possibility Place, which is in George Park on
"This is a playground where all children, with or without
physical challenges, can play together and stretch their
imaginations," said Janis Creason, vice president of Inspired
Recreation, the committee that directed the playground project.
Reilly, son of
Creason said she was at a picnic with the Johnson family two
years ago when she noticed that Reilly couldn't join the children
on the playground.
"Reilly said he wished he could be out there, with the
other kids, and that got me thinking of how do children in
wheelchairs or with any physical challenge use a playground,"
Creason talked to
David Blain, a Lower Paxton Twp. supervisor, about making a township
playground handicap accessible. Blain introduced her to Ann
Phillips, who wanted to create a playground in an open field near
Together, Creason and Phillips formed a committee to
make it a possibility.
"It was time to put a playground of this quality in Lower
Paxton Twp.," Phillips said.
The committee raised $250,000 in cash and more than twice that
in in-kind donations, and enlisted the help of 1,500 volunteers to
build the playground.
It also received the assistance of the Pennsylvania Air
National Guard's 193rd Civil Engineer Squadron, which installed
water and electrical service for the playground and helped build
Some of the components at
RoseAnne Horan said her son,
"When I heard that they were planning a
handicap-accessible playground I said I will believe it when I see
it. And, boy, do I believe it! We can't wait to try it out."
"We would take Reilly to the park, but there wasn't
anything he could really do at most playgrounds," Nan Johnson
"This is a dream come true. You want your kids to do
normal things, and here Reilly can do those things."
The playground feature Reilly is looking most forward to using
is a recording and performance stage, where he hopes to present
Reilly loves to sing and has presented public performances,
including singing at a political rally for President George W.
"I love to sing," he said.
JERRY L. GLEASON: 975-9782 or email@example.com
Dreaming up a
Imagine a rock-climbing wall that leads to a trampoline the size of a basketball court. Imagine a jet pack that would shoot you to the top of a tree house with your friends.
Imagine a dark, low tunnel leading to a twisty, fast slide.
Central Dauphin School District elementary school students imagined their dream playground and brainstormed with designers from Leathers & Associates, a firm from Ithaca, N.Y., specializing in custom community playgrounds.
At a celebration Thursday, designers unveiled a playground schematic drawing to a group of about 60 parents and kids eager to play.
Designers couldn’t use all the ideas from hundreds of kids, but the finished design included an airplane, a large tree house with ramps to different levels, a recording studio and stage, a sandbox, monkey bars, slides, swings, and a kaleidoscope in a lookout tower.
The playground is scheduled to become real next June in George Park off Nyes Road in Lower Paxton Twp.
The playground will be accessible to people with a variety of disabilities. Janis Creason imagined that part.
Creason, 51, the mother of four daughters, wanted a playground where her friend’s disabled son could play.
Since she couldn’t find one in the area, she began researching accessible playgrounds online and on trips.
She wanted a playground all kids could use and all parents and grandparents could visit.
And she wanted a playground that would be fun.
Creason and about 15 other parents formed the Possibility Place Committee. They hope to make all of Lower Paxton Twp.’s playgrounds accessible.
For now, they need to raise money to pay for the new playground and recruit adult volunteers to help build it.
The playground will be built of recycled lumber, which doesn’t splinter, said Ann Phillips, who dreamed of a playground in George Park and combined forces with Creason.
It will have cushiony material on the ground instead of tan bark mulch and railroad ties, which are difficult to traverse with a wheelchair or crutches and hard to play on after rain or snow, Phillips said.
“It looks fabulous,” Creason said of the designers’ drawing.
“I’m thrilled. They got it,” she said. “They definitely got it.”
DIANA FISHLOCK: 255-8251 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Design Day Pictures
© Inspired Recreation 2006