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City council to vote on grant for inclusive playground in east Toledo

If Toledo City Council votes to accept the $197,000 grant, it will go toward funding a half-million dollar inclusive playground to be built at Navarre Park.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo City Council will vote on approving a $197,000 grant Tuesday to help fund a new, inclusive playground in east Toledo.

The total cost would be $500,000 and the playground would be located at Navarre Park.

Joe Fausnaugh, Director of Toledo Parks and Youth Services, said the inclusive playground will be more accessible for kids of all abilities and all make-ups.

"We wanted to provide people in east Toledo with a playground that was available to everyone regardless of any physical, mental or emotional challenges a family is challenged with," Fausnaugh said.

It's now up to city council before the plans can come into play. Most of the funding is already accounted for through approvals from the Community Development Block Grant and American Recovery Plan back in March.

The other grant the city will be voting on tomorrow was funded with help from The Ability Center and Toledo Refining Company.

The Ability Center's executive director, Stuart James, said the playgrounds are more than just for kids. They're for parents with disabilities like him, too. He said his own kids and others can learn from people with disabilities, like him.

"They have no disability. They get to learn about disability from me, and it's not because I'm sitting off to the side, doing nothing because I can't," James said. "I'm up there jumping with them, playing with them."

James said a truly inclusive playground is not about adding separate designated spaces, but instead it's about bringing everything and everyone together.

"We need to work together to build spaces where we talk and communicate with each other, we learn from each other and we play with each other," he said. "Playing is one of the best places to learn."

Fausnaugh is no rookie to building playgrounds and said he is all for building more inclusive playgrounds in the future.

"I've done a lot of playgrounds, but my favorite ones are accessible playgrounds because no one's excluded. Everyone in the community gets an opportunity to grow, learn and to thrive," Fausnaugh said.

If Toledo City Council votes to approve the playground Tuesday, Fausnaugh and his team will start to order parts for the playground, with no estimated start date just yet.

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