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Inclusive playground in Bowling Green opens to public

Holden Stroudinger is already a big fan of the Carter Park inclusive playground. And so is his mom, who's just as thrilled as he is to have the independence to play.

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — One day, 4-year-old Holden Stroudinger could be a mailman or chef. But for now, he's Holden.

"An actual miracle child," Margie Harris, the treasurer of Wood County Plays, said.

He's also the only child of Kelly and Travis Stroudinger.

"He was born missing the center part of his brain, the part that connects the left and the right, so he's been very delayed from that and he also has hydrocephalus, which is extra fluid in the brain," Kelly said.

Kelly said Holden has been diagnosed with multiple medical conditions, including spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy, which impacts the mobility of the left side of his body. She said in the first few days that Holden was born, she and her husband were unaware of Holden's condition.

"We have a five or six-day-old baby and they said he might walk, he might not, it was a lot to take in initially," Kelly said.

After years of therapy, Holden started walking last year.

Now, he's putting that walking to the test at the new inclusive playground in Bowling Green's Carter Park.

And play he did. Holden climbed up structures and went down slides on his own, which would have been more difficult for him on playgrounds lacking accessibility features.

"To hear him say 'I did it by myself,' he hasn't been able to do things by himself even to this day because he doesn't have the capabilities," Kelly said. "It's huge that he can climb up and not have to worry about steps or falling down. He's not having to hold a handrail, he can just climb by himself and make it."

The 10,000-square-foot Rally Cap Sports Inclusive Playground offers swings, a jungle gym, a slide and more. It's also the second inclusive playground to open in Wood County in the last year and a half. The first one opened in Perrysburg last year.

"It is really important to feel included and a part of the community, and this is a start," Harris said. "We start them young and they're included in our community and that's the way it stays."

The park is possible because of Wood County Plays, a grant and fundraising money. Wood County Plays is headed by WTOL 11 meteorologist Ryan Wichman.

The playground is open from sunrise to sunset at Carter Park, just off of Campbell Hill Road in Bowling Green.

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