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Mary’s Magical Place, Special Needs Playground, Opens in Hendersonville
July 12, 2018
Source: WKRN - Hendersonville, TN
Note: Original news story includes a captioned video (2:28 minutes).
In August 2018, there will be a new playground in Hendersonville. News 2 was told it’s the first of its kind in Tennessee, designed for children with disabilities and their families.
Mary’s Magical Place is a special needs playground being built with love, and donations and grants totaling around $1.3-million.
A lot of Middle Tennessee families have been looking forward to this for a long time.
“It’s really hard to find any activity that our whole family can do together. We often find ourselves having to split up," said Jennifer White.But when this playground is complete, families like the Whites and the James’s can enjoy more quality time together.
“I was injured in Iraq in 2008 from a roadside bomb. I lost my legs in that blast. And so being able to play with my children from my injury has been tough," said Armed 1st Class Retired Joseph JamesBecause of this playground, children like 10-year-old Michael Sloan will no longer have to sit on the sidelines, and watch, as his friends enjoy the things he once loved to do.
Timberly Sloan said, “It’ll be four years in July since he had his accident and there’s really just not a good place for him to go and be able to play with his friends. Right now we can’t take him to the park and let him swing, which is one of his favorite things to do because there’s just no access.”
Mary’s Magical Place was named for Mary McAuley, and planning started right after her death.
“We’re [waiting] over two and a half years, so yeah, I’m sorry I’m emotional today. Mary would’ve been 17 years old. She had cerebral palsy, epilepsy, feeding tubes, non-verbal and was in a wheelchair pretty much full time," Rachel McAuley told News 2.
Mary’s mother said she can’t imagine how excited her daughter would’ve been to see the play area.
She said, “To see these children out here, that’s the best gift I think she could probably have and I could have.”
The vision is to have a playground for people of all ages and all abilities because so much is learned on a playground.
“Life skills, like learning to take turns and getting along with others, compassion, and repetitive failure, which leads to success. Here we can have grandparents coming to the playground, we can have parents who are in a wheelchair or have prosthetics or a physical disability can bring their able-bodied children and then able-bodied children can play along with their siblings who have disabilities," said Carol Ernst, Co-founder of Mary’s Magical Place.
There’s a roller table, which allows someone who would not be able to use monkey bars to have that feeling of success. There are also two merry-go-rounds, one for people who use a wheelchair, as well as a swing for kids who use a wheelchair, all on a smooth surface.
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