PERRYSBURG, Ohio — Children of all makeups and abilities were able to have fun in the sun on Saturday morning at the grand opening of Perrysburg's inclusive playground off of Fort Meigs Rd. at Rotary Park.
The playspace was designed for children with special needs in mind.
It has features like soft rubber flooring instead of mulch, wheelchair and walker-friendly structures, and static-free slides for children with cochlear implants.
The idea for the space came from WTOL meteorologist Ryan Wichman, who saw a need when his son Grant struggled to maneuver his walker on a playground they were visiting.
"He saw his friends - two, three, four-year-olds - out there running as free as can be and he knew he needed our assistance to use those same slides and swings. That made him mad, and I could empathize with him. What kid wants their parents right next to them on the playground?" said Wichman.
Not wanting to see Grant or any other children have to experience that frustration any longer, Ryan, along with his wife, began doing research into solutions.
They eventually formed the non-profit Wood County Plays, with a vision to build a playground that's accessible for their son and other children with disabilities in the community.
"I knew that with him we were going to have a long journey of walkers and wheelchairs ahead, and him not having a playground to play at his entire childhood or driving a long distance wasn't acceptable," said Wichman.
That mission ended up taking two years of planning, hard work, and building local partnerships. On Saturday morning it finally came to fruition.
"Today I'm just filled with pride for our entire team; for the effort, the time, the dedication that they put into this. And seeing all the families out here is incredible," said Wichman.
But Ryan and the Wood County Builds team say this is only the beginning of an inclusivity revolution.
'"A little selfishly we built the first one here in Perrysburg where we live, but we want to expand them out to other communities so families of all abilities, in a lot of locations, are going to get this opportunity," said Wichman.