HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Teams of volunteers are helping make history in Harrison County. They spent much of the day Friday building what's believed to be the first handicapped accessible playground on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Volunteers at Bruce Ladner Memorial Park are carefully piecing together the Disability Connection Community Playground.
"Everybody is real excited about this. It's just something folks never think about. And Caitlyn and her momma opened my eyes a whole lot," said Harrison County Supervisor Kim Savant.
Theresa Snell sparked the idea of building a handicapped accessible playground after her daughter, Caitlyn, found barriers at conventional playgrounds.
"I have tried to take my daughter to the park numerous times with her little cousins that are the same age as she is. And there's no accessibility to be able to get to the equipment," she said.
This equipment is specially designed with disabilities in mind. It includes an interactive play station for youngsters with autism and a "flat sliding board."
"Even if they're in a neck brace, or oxygen, significant disabilities, they can be put on one end. And if they have good arms, they can pull themselves along or someone else can roll them. So, it's like a movable slide. They cannot fall or get hurt," said Janie O'Keefe with Disability Connection.
Project Manager Billy Joe Kelly echoes the pride these volunteers feel.
"Means a lot to be able to know that these children will be able to come out and do the same things that everyday children will be able to do. And this is the first of its kind in the area," he said.
The project will not only benefit children with disabilities, but think about a wounded veteran in a wheelchair who'd like to take his able-bodied children to the playground.
Construction noise will soon be replaced with the sounds of children, all children, playing together.
"Have awareness. And just let some kids have some fun," said Snell.
The park will open next Friday, May 4th.