By MARY ANN O’TOOLE HOLLEY
Florissant – After a dozen years of planning, the city of Florissant broke ground last week on North St. Louis County’s first all-inclusive playground, and Labor stood with city officials and Accessible Play organizers offering support.
Though the 9,000-square-foot accessible playground is set to open in July, precise construction plans have not been determined.
Pat White, president of the St. Louis Labor Council and Fred Searcy, president of the North County Labor Club, said the Labor community stands ready to support the project and will help in any way needed.
“We’re going to do what we can,” said White. “These playgrounds are wonderful resources for children and veterans with disabilities, and we are happy to help the city of Florissant reach its goals. The more funds and volunteers received, the more the playground can be enhanced.”
Searcy, director of Minority Recruitment for Plumbers and Pipefitters 562, said Labor Club members and the Labor community came together to build an all-inclusive playground in the city of Ferguson recently, and it was installed in one day.
“We never have any trouble getting skilled Union tradesmen and women to volunteer for worthwhile causes,” Searcy said. “When plans are finalized, we will keep everyone informed through the Labor Tribune, on our Facebook page and through other Social Media.”
Florissant Mayor Tim Lowery said plans to transform the city’s Manion Park began in 2008 with well-known Florissant resident Gary Behlmann, whose daughter, Angie, had special needs.
“Gary was passionate about seeing the all-inclusive park come to fruition, but he and his daughter have both passed away,” Lowery said.
The playground named “Angie’s Inclusive Playground at Manion Park,” will have a “flower power” theme, using a custom floral design and accessible equipment from Little Tikes Commercial.
The playground will include a colorful play area for children of all abilities to learn and grow together, said Unlimited Play Project Manager Jim Vollmer. Manion Park is located on seven acres off of Graham Road in Florissant. It includes a lighted multipurpose court, a pavilion, and comfort station.
The city has received grants to pay for the project.
“It’s going to give kids of all ages an opportunity to utilize this special playground in North St. Louis County,” Lowery said. “Anyone can use it, people from throughout the county, and it gives kids with disabilities a chance to play and interact with other children.”
HOW TO HELP
Florissant-based Accessible Play, Inc. has partnered with Unlimited Play and the City of Florissant to make that dream a reality.
If you’d like to help, donations can be sent to Accessible Play, Inc., P.O. Box 766 Florissant, MO 63033.
For more information on the organization and available playgrounds, visit unlimitedplay.org or www.accessibleplayinc.org.