Brunswick Inclusive Playground opens in Neura Park

Brunswick Inclusive Playground opens in Neura Park

BRUNSWICK, Ohio — The official opening of the Brunswick Inclusive Playground marked a watershed moment in the city’s history, according to those gathered at the Nov. 5 event.

“Public spaces help define what a community is,” said Brunswick City Council President Nick Hanek. “To me, this is what Brunswick is; a family community that cares about all families and [being] a place for everyone.”

The playground was conceived and spearheaded by Brunswick City Schools Intervention Specialist and Special Education Coordinator Leann Alferio and came to fruition as a partnership between the schools and the city. The scope of the $700,000 project has also been expanded several times since its inception nearly years ago, Hanek noted, as donations poured in.

The playground, located at Neura Park, 4637 Center Road, includes a wide range of traditional and state-of-the-art playground equipment, from swings to zip lines, designed for children with physical challenges and those without.

“This day and this moment will forever change the lives of so many children,” Alferio said at the playground’s inauguration. “This will be the first time anyone can experience a playground. They have had to sit on the sidelines, but not today. Today everyone has access to play”.

Alferio added that perhaps the most important part of the new playground, which was packed with children and families at the inauguration, It goes way beyond the team.

“Every child who comes to this park will get a first-hand lesson in empathy and compassion,” he said. “See each child as a friend and be able to look beyond their differences. We should be very proud. The efforts we have made together as a community will last a lifetime.”

The fundraising effort generated donations from individuals, businesses and civic groups throughout the community and across the country, from corporate donations of up to $100,000 and an infusion of $175,000 of the city, to the local children opening lemonade stands Y planting gardens to raise funds for the playground.

Brunswick Parks and Recreation Director Taylor Petkovsek called it “without a doubt the most rewarding project I’ve been a part of” and Brunswick City Schools Superintendent Jason Niedermeyer said the playground has been a “huge opportunity for the school district to collaborate with the city.”

Stephanie Levandusky, from Brunswick, attended the opening with her sons, Luke, 10; Ava, 3; and Caydence, 7. Levandusky said both Ava and Luke have a condition known as brittle bone disease, which presents with mobility problems.

“We are very excited that Ava and Luke can go to a playground,” he said, noting that something as simple as replacing mulch with a rubberized surface gives children who use wheelchairs independent access to the playground. playtime. “It’s wonderful for them to be included and not have to sit and watch the other kids play.”

Luke said he was excited to give the zip line a spin, as well as the roller slide and some equipment he hadn’t previously known about.

Krista Allison, Berea resident and Mrs. Wheelchair Ohio 2022, was also at the playground opening.

“Did you know they have a merry-go-round and swings that we can ride our chairs on?” she asked Luke, whose eyes lit up at the prospect.

Neura Park is the oldest park in the city and is named after Captain Theodore P. Neura, the first military man to die in the Vietnam conflict, in December 1963. Neura’s sister, Aqua Neura Witkowski, said it is a honor to have the inclusive playground in Parque Neura.

“It’s wonderful to see all these kids having fun,” he said. “My mother came from Lithuania for freedom, my brother died for freedom, and now these children are experiencing one of the most important parts of freedom: having a park to play in.”

City Manager Carl DeForest praised Alferio, first and foremost, for having the passion and courage to approach city officials with the idea and continue the effort to its conclusion. After a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Alferio was surrounded by a crowd of children of all physical abilities and called the experience simply “awesome.”

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