The ceremonial groundbreaking for the City’s first inclusive playground, named the Ann Eisemann Inclusive Playground, took place last month at Cottonwood Park, commemorating the beginning of a much-anticipated project and longtime dream of many area civic leaders, caregivers, teachers, parents and children. The playground will replace the existing playground at the park and will be accessible to children and caregivers of a wide variety of abilities, through creative design, materials and equipment.
“This speaks volumes about our City and the types of things we can do when we all come together,” Mayor Paul Voelker said at the event. “We’ve inspired not just our own citizens but others in the Metroplex.” He reminded those in attendance that the playground is designed for all, not just those with special needs. “I think this is going to build empathy, understanding and awareness at all ages, whether you’re a child playing with another child or a grandparent here visiting your children.”
Funds for the playground were provided in part by the 2015 Bond Program, with additional monies raised by private donations coordinated by the Richardson East Rotary Club (RERC). Community interest in the park has been so great that RERC surpassed the initial fundraising goal of $250,000 to reach a total of $500,000 in just two years, and presented a ceremonial check for that amount at the groundbreaking. Major donors include Ann and Charles Eisemann, the B.B. Owen Trust, The Rees-Jones Foundation, RERC, the Richardson Rotary Club, Methodist Richardson Medical Center, 100 Women of Richardson and Knickers or Nothin’, Inc. More than 1,000 individuals, couples, organizations, companies and families donated toward the playground’s construction, and many braved cold temperatures to witness the January groundbreaking.
“Richardson proves that when you dream big, big things can happen,” Ann Eisemann said, who, along with her husband Charles, gave the naming rights donation and has supported many Richardson civic improvements and community organizations over the years. “It fills my heart with joy to think about all the children that can come here and have the best time.”
Thanks to the increased funds raised, the playground will include enhancements such as an accessible restroom, fencing and additional play equipment and specialized surfaces.
Construction is expected to be complete in late spring, weather permitting. For more information, visit www.cor.net/inclusiveplayground.