September 11, 2019
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Every community deserves an inclusive playground

In Aurora, Colorado, a community fundraising effort included city, nonprofit, and small business leaders. See how they did it.

An adaptive merry-go-round is at ground level so kids with walkers or wheelchairs can easily gain access. All photos courtesy of Danielle Lammon

Every kid deserves a chance to play. In Aurora, Colorado, our community came together to ensure that kids of all abilities and their families have a chance to swing, whirl, and enjoy each other outdoors—so we built the area’s first and only inclusive playground.

On Aug. 24, kids of all ages got to experience the playground at Red Tailed Hawk Park for the first time. The park offers adaptive swings and spinners, sensory play, music, and plenty of room for people in wheelchairs and walkers to explore.

The Rotary Club of Aurora raised $265,000 and local businesses, such as Danielle Shannon Agency – Allstate Insurance, also contributed to help make the 8,000-square-foot park a reality.

If you close your eyes, you can probably conjure in your mind the sights and sounds of a typical playground—kids running, laughing, and screaming for joy. An inclusive park is not that different. Seeing kids of all ages ride on a swing or a merry-go-round for the first time—to be free and out of their chairs—is something special.

One of my favorite sounds came from the zip line. Listening to the kids, many of whom are non-verbal, squeal and giggle as they experienced this thrill for the first time brought tears to my eyes.

The zip line is a favorite for many of the kids!

I spoke to a dad who agreed. He brought his son and I could see the excitement on their faces. He told me, “We don’t live anywhere close but we heard about it and we wanted to come, and we’re going to come back.”

Aurora, which is part of the Denver metro area, is lucky to have this community resource and it was truly a community effort. Several groups—from the city of Aurora, to local nonprofit organizations such as Make-A-Wish Foundation and The Rotary Club, to organizations such as The Allstate Foundation, which provided a $10,000 grant—raised funds to build the $1.2 million park.

After working on this project, Aurora business owner Danielle Lammon says she's interested in helping other communities plan and build inclusive playgrounds in their own neighborhoods. "I would love to be part of an initiative ... that helps build these parks across the nation!"

Every community should have access to an inclusive playground. If you are interested in getting an inclusive playground built in your community, reach out to your local city council representative or city parks and recreation department. Inclusive playgrounds take time to develop and raise funds, but is worth the hard work and dedication when you witness the pure joy that a child and their family can experience by simply having the opportunity to play and have fun.

If you’re interested in learning about how to bring an inclusive playground to your community, email The Renewal Project at info@therenewalproject.com and we can put you in touch with resources.

Danielle Lammon Allstate

Danielle Lammon

Allstate Agency Owner

Danielle Lammon is owner of the Danielle Shannon Agency – Allstate Insurance, board member on the City of Aurora Park & Recreation Commission, Chair-Elect of the Spina Bifida Association of Colorado, Rotarian, member of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Team, as well as the co-founder of the Driven Dames and co-creator of the 5K Method. Danielle is continually empowering others to make a positive impact and leave a legacy.