It's time to play — let's do it together

Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 08:32

It happens every once in a while, a moment that makes you sit back in your chair, and reminds you just how lucky you are. Recently, a member of the Eagle River Rotary Club came to a Lions meeting and gave a presentation about a project that will be underway in Eagle River this summer. The presentation was short, and there were no fancy props, bells, or whistles. It was just a person with a message. The message: let’s give every child the opportunity to be included.

This summer, the Rotary and Focus, Inc. are teaming together, with a number of corporate and private donors, to build the first all inclusive playground in Alaska. What does this mean? It is a simple goal: traditional playground equipment isn’t accessible to all children, so let’s find a way to make it accessible. It is estimated that in the U.S., 6 million kids have a disability of some sort, which makes it impossible to play on traditional playground equipment. Kids in wheelchairs, or who use other types of physical supports, are left to sit on the sidelines while their brothers, sisters, and friends play on the equipment that adorns our many parks and schools.

With new technology and new types of equipment, kids of all types of physical abilities will soon have the opportunity to play alongside their friends, brothers and sisters — long gone will be the days of sitting on the sidelines. The Eagle River Rotary Club has been raising money to fund a project in town square this summer, which will add playground equipment to the existing park. The project will cost north of $100,000, but the club has been tirelessly raising money, and all of the donations will go toward the cost of the playground equipment. They are mitigating much of the cost by soliciting volunteers to help install the equipment as well. These are everyday people in our community who are just pitching in to lend a hand.

Many of us have grown up in this community or have raised our kids here. Some of us will never know what it is like to be excluded because of physical limitations. Even though we may not know these moments, what we do know is the compassion of our community. Chugiak-Eagle River is a community of neighbors who build each other up and lend a hand to strangers. In the next few weeks this project will be underway. If you can spare a few dollars call Focus, Inc at 694-6002 (all donations are tax deductible, too – just write Let’s All Play in the memo line), or e-mail the Eagle River Rotary Club at [email protected]. Together, we can accomplish anything. It’s time to play – let’s do it together!

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