The Kids Beat

Fun for All

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In 2010, Julia Wayne was working as an early childhood special educator for the Burlington School District when she realized there was no local playground accessible to all of her students, who had a variety of diverse needs — including autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and visual impairment. So she set out to get one built. Oakledge for All, a volunteer group Wayne began, is embarking on a campaign to raise $500,000 by 2019 to support the construction of a playground in Burlington's Oakledge Park. The new playground will replace the existing one, which was built in 1988. The space will have "different areas that meet different kids' needs," said former school counselor Jane Krasnow, a member of the steering committee. Features will include a PebbleFlex synthetic rubber ground surface instead of mulch, swings that accommodate different abilities and ages, an in-ground trampoline, as well as other inclusive elements like an extra-wide family slide, quiet green spaces, and wheelchair-accessible pathways between play equipment, parking and bathrooms. Burlington's Parks, Recreation & Waterfront department, a key partner in the initiative, selected Oakledge after conducting a site analysis of the city's parks and playgrounds. Burlington Parks & Rec has committed $150,000 to the project and is pursuing additional state and federal grants. A $30,000 "Meet Me at the Park" grant from the Walt Disney Company will help purchase the first piece of permanent playground equipment — a swing — in October. Watch for a kickoff celebration with music, food and activities at the park next month.

To learn more or to volunteer to help with the playground initiative, visit oakledgeforall.org.

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