Lincoln receives $400,000 grant to build fully inclusive playground

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Lincoln officials unveiled a plan on Tuesday to create what they say is the city’s first fully inclusive playground at Mahoney Park.

It’s going to be for everyone, regardless of age or ability.

The city received a $400,000 grant from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to create the playground, which will be about 32,000 square feet.

Lincoln Parks and Recreation Director Maggie Stuckey-Ross said the grant requires a 50% match by the city, but the city will match all the funds.

Most of the money is already available in the Capital Improvement Program budget, with the remaining $100,000 coming from private donations and the general budget.

The playground will have zones for different play areas.

It will also be the only inclusive playground with a fence and single-entry gate, something parents really wanted.

“This park is a victory for the marginalized and underserved disabled in our community,” said Cathy Martinez, president of Autism Family Network. “People in wheelchairs, people with visual impairments, people with intellectual disabilities, they may look different to outsiders, but they are the same in their need for play.”

The playground will have no stairs and will be accessible to all.

It will feature numerous banks of swings, a water zone, a climbing zone and a sensory garden.

Martinez said Lincoln should have something that makes everybody feel welcome.

“When my 20-year-old son goes to swing at the park and he’s sitting next to 4-and-5-year-olds, it’s very obvious that it makes people uncomfortable,” she said.

Martinez said knowing that the playground is for those of all abilities will make people more accepting there.

Stuckey-Ross said the hope is to break ground in the spring of 2024, with the playground opening about six months later.

The playground is part of the city’s goal to build four inclusive playgrounds around the city by 2038.

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