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Local group begins fundraising for Wood Co. inclusive playground

The only nearby inclusive playground similar to the one Wood County Plays aspires to build is in Findlay.
Credit: Emma Henderson

TOLEDO, Ohio — A group in Wood County is trying to raise money to build an inclusive playground for its little residents.

"It's a playground for every child in Perrysburg and right now, there are children in Perrysburg who are not able to access any playground and have to drive an hour away," Perrysburg mom and teacher Arica Hoge said.

Hoge has two little boys, one is on the Autism spectrum, which makes it difficult for their family to find many activities the kids can do together.

"My family believes we have to divide and conquer, we split up and my husband goes with my older son who is neuro-typical and the other one goes with my younger son who needs more supervision, more one-on-one attention," Hoge said.

That changed when they visited an inclusive playground in Findlay. It's accessible for any kid with a mobility device and it has special sensory features for children on the autism spectrum.

Right now, that's the only playground of its kind in northwest Ohio, so Wood County Plays wants to bring one closer to home by next summer.

"What it does is provide different areas of play or different opportunities so you can have those social interactions, so you can have those opportunities when you're four, five and six years of age," Brent Baer, Superintendent of the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities said.

Learn more about Wood County Plays and inclusive playgrounds HERE.

The goal is to bring every child in the community together through play, but the accessibility comes at a cost. The estimates for the construction of the playground range between $650 to $750 thousand dollars, so the group has to be strategic about where they put this first playground.

"It is by far the area where we see the greatest growth in the number of people enrolled in our services," Baer said.

When looking at numbers, Perrysburg has twice as many people enrolled in the Board for Developmental Disabilities services than Bowling Green, which has the second most, meaning there are many more parents like Hoge who would be close to the playground.

"I really feel like Perrysburg can start a trend here about including every kid in play," Hoge said.