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Wood County Plays: A look inside the mission to build an inclusive playground

The Perrysburg playground will be the first of its kind in Wood County, built so children of all abilities can play together.
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PERRYSBURG, Ohio — Imagine taking your kids to the playground only to find out they can't use any of the equipment or even step foot onto the play area. That's what some families in our community face every day and Wood County Plays is working to eliminate this sad reality.

Wood County Plays is an initiative within the 501(c)3 Wood Lane Foundation located in Bowling Green. Wood County Plays is a passionate group of parents, therapists and residents that believes everyone deserves the chance to play. They fund raise with the goal of building inclusive playgrounds that are safe and accessible and help children of all abilities build bonds that will continue through life.

First Alert Meteorologist Ryan Wichman helped start the playground initiative early in 2019 after visiting several local playgrounds. Ryan’s son, Grant, just turned 3 years old. Grant has a genetic condition that leads to low muscle tone and below-normal coordination but, like typically developing children, he loves to visit playgrounds. Traditional play spaces use mulch and stairs, which leave children like Grant without an option to play independently at the one place a kid should be allowed to explore and enjoy.

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Wood County Plays uses speech, occupational and physical therapists along with psychologists from local elementary and preschools to ensure the playground will best serve all kids. Layout and equipment have been positioned to maximize accessibility while recognizing more challenging pieces are needed for typically developing children. The layout encourages side by side play that engages all children within their potential, not limitations.

While inclusivity includes being accessible, the playground will be made for more than mobility devices. Safety for children with sensory disorders is a priority. Fencing will prevent bolting and a quiet dome on the playground will allow for recovery if a child becomes overwhelmed. A sensory tunnel on the main structure will be one-of-a-kind.

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The proposed budget for the playground is near $750,000 with Wood County Plays relying on grants and community donations to fund the project. The proposed location will make it an easy drive for families across the Toledo metro area. Rotary Community Park has a large parking lot and is only two minutes off I-475.

To learn more about the playground, volunteer or to donate, please visit: wcplays.org

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