By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG
The Cleveland Civitan Club held a groundbreaking ceremony recently to celebrate a new addition to its Inclusive Playground. The playground, located in Stuart Park near George R. Stuart …
The Cleveland Civitan Club held a groundbreaking ceremony recently to celebrate a new addition to its Inclusive Playground.
The playground, located in Stuart Park near George R. Stuart Elementary School, will soon be getting a new restroom area and pavilion, thanks to a local grant. The Bradley County Healthy Community Initiative recently awarded the Cleveland Civitan Club a $15,000 matching grant for the project.
“This grant is one piece of the puzzle that will allow us to move forward with this project,” said Teresa Davis, a club board and playground committee member. “It feels awesome to know we have this support.”
The $15,000 grant will help fund two new picnic shelters, an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant restroom building and new sidewalks and landscaping. This grant joins one the George R. Johnson Family Foundation had already contributed to the project.
The Civitan Inclusive Playground was constructed in 1988 as the Civitan Handi-Park, a park designed to meet the needs of children with disabilities. The playground received a major renovation and a name change in 2012, but Davis explained the club has continued to raise money for improvements.
“It has been an effort to get phase two started,” Davis said. “We are thankful for these grants which will allow us to improve the park.”
The park previously had a restroom building, but it was recently torn down. Davis said a problem with flooding at the site left it in poor condition, and it was not ADA-compliant. It also did not have a dedicated shelter for people to sit out of the sun.
Davis stressed the local Civitan Club does not receive money from the Civitan International it can use for this project, so it has had to raise money locally. She said the club remains committed to the cause of providing children with disabilities a place to play.
The playground features a series of ramps which allow children who use wheelchairs to enjoy the fun of playground attractions like slides. It is open to children of all abilities, but this cause is close to the Civitans’ heart because of the opportunity it offers to those who have disabilities.
“We want all children to be included in the fun children have at a playground,” Davis said. “Elsewhere, they might have to sit and watch while other children play.”
With this being the only playground of its kind in the Cleveland area, she added this is something worth taking care of like the “real gem” it is.
Thanks to the city of Cleveland’s Departments of Planning and Engineering and Public Works, the old restroom building has already been demolished.
Epperson Homes LLC, has been selected as the general contractor for the new additions to the park, and construction is expected to begin before the end of the year.
The Civitans also received support for this project from the Ocoee Region Builders Association, which Davis said has adopted the playground as “its community project for 2017.”
While its members are thankful for the support so far, the club is still trying to raise the rest of the $200,000 it needs to make all the planned improvements. Anyone interested in helping can support the effort during an upcoming fundraiser.
On Thursday, Nov. 2, the club will host “Pasta with a Purpose” at North Cleveland Church of God. The club is holding two separate pasta dinners that evening — one at 6 and one at 7:30. Take-out dinners will also be available.
Tickets are $12.50 each and include spaghetti and meatballs, salad, dessert and a drink. Reservations must be made in advance, and Davis said tickets are selling quickly.
For more information, contact Davis at 423-596-9925 or David Cummings at 423-472-9635.
“This grant is one piece of the puzzle that will allow us to move forward with this project. It feels awesome to know we have this support.” — Teresa Davis
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