Disability Connection playground a big hit

Published: Aug. 23, 2013 at 8:34 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2013 at 11:24 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - An organization that champions the causes of people with special needs realized a dream on Friday.

After years of hard work and searching for funds, the non-profit group Disability Connection dedicated a new all inclusive playground. It is the first of its kind in South Mississippi.

Bruce Ladner's son, Brandon, was proud to cut the ribbon at the Memorial Park in his dad's memory. It was the official dedication of the new Disability Connection playground.

Two-year-old Amy Godber has Cerebral Palsy. Her mom, Debra, is thankful for such a great place, made especially for children like Amy.

"It is difficult for the little ones and the special needs kids to play on normal playgrounds," Debra Godber said. "So to have one that's so accessible so close to home is wonderful."

Nicole Ray says this is the most accessible playground she and her daughter, Lauren, have ever visited.

"It is amazing, it's absolutely amazing. She loved the swing," Nicole Ray said. "Sometimes you'll get somewhere and it's accessible until you get to the equipment. And then it's muddy and then you're trying to off road and getting stuck in the mud. Here, you just wheel up and it's very convenient."

Although there are some local handicap accessible playgrounds, designer Max Maxwell of Playscapes Mississippi said this Disability Connection playground is the first inclusive playground on the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast.

"Inclusive is for kids with all abilities, not just accessible. Accessible is just wheelchair accessible," Max Maxwell explained. "But inclusive brings in all the kids with special needs disorders and regular kids."

Jane O'Keefe of Disability Connection, Supervisor Kim Savant and other volunteers worked together to create the Disability Connection playground on Hwy 53 at Bruce Ladner Memorial Park.

To learn more about this Gulfport organization for people with disabilities and special needs, visit: www.disabilityconnection.org.

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