Bennett's Village hosts community event in Pen Park
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- One in four adults living in the U.S. are living with a disability that impacts life activities including play, which is why Bennett's Village is creating an all abilities playground in Pen Park.
Bennett's Village president and founder Kara McClurken knows first-hand the importance of inclusivity in play spaces.
"There are so many families that don't come out to playgrounds because they don't accommodate to their varying needs," McClurken said.
Her late son, Bennett, used a power wheelchair and the closest fully accessible park was all the way in Richmond.
"Bennett could certainly get to the playground, but if you look at the playground he couldn't actually interact with any of the play structure," McClurken said.
Now three years after Bennett's passing, Bennett's Village is planning to make an all-abilities playground in Charlottesville, a need McClurken says is long overdue.
"It would mean so much. There's no place for a kid in a wheelchair in Charlottesville to play, it'd have to be Richmond or Harrisonburg," said Heather Rogers.
Rogers' son, Wilson, is just one of many children that will greatly benefit from such a play structure.
"It was one of the first things when he was first diagnosed with his rare disease, where is he going to play," she said.
Sunday's fun day in Pen Park celebrated recent concept designs for the playground.
"There's going to be a treehouse and he can just roll right on up to overlook everything he doesn't have to climb up because he won't be able to climb, so this will mean a lot for him to socialize with kids, playing without a grown-up over his shoulder constantly," Rogers said.
This treehouse is the first phase of the play area Bennett's Village hopes to create. By itself, it will cover more than three acres and include fully accessible play structures.
“I don't think the message that we want to send as a community in Charlottesville is that play spaces are for some people and not all," McClurken said.
Bennett's Village is still fundraising and hopes to break ground in 2023. For more information on how to donate to Bennett's Village, click here.