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Can-Do Playground Celebrates 10 Years

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Rotarians, dignitaries and many others will gather at Alapocas Run State Park near Wilmington Saturday, July 15, to recognize the 10th anniversary of a unique and successful project—the Can-Do Playground.

The playground, designed so that people of all physical and cognitive abilities can play together, opened on July 11, 2007 after a collection of Rotary clubs from northern New Castle County hatched the idea to celebrate the centennial of Rotary International.

The nonprofit Wilmington Delaware Area Rotary Clubs Community Fund joined with the state Division of Parks & Recreation, the state Department of Transportation and the National Center for Boundless Playgrounds to bring the idea to life. The initial project cost close to $1 million, and the playground has been maintained through an endowment established by the group. The state contributed the land and other infrastructure, while Rotarians, Rotary clubs and other private donors pitched in to raise the rest of the funding.

“The project has far exceeded all expectations from Rotarians,” says Tom Talley, the nonprofit’s chairman. “It’s been a unique public-private partnership.”

The group will host an event Saturday at the playground that begins at 9:30 a.m. with a short ceremony for Rotarians and VIPs. The public is invited to join at 10 a.m. WDEL will be broadcasting live until noon, and there will be plenty of activities for families, including a scavenger hunt, face-painting, refreshments and an appearance by Wilmington Blue Rocks mascot Rocky Bluewinkle.

Nature lovers will be treated to Brandywine Zoo’s mobile zoo, a Nature on the Go cart, and information from Parks & Recreation staffers about indigenous wildlife.

As part of the 10-year celebration, the Rotarians are raising funds to make improvements to the playground. Repairs to ramps and equipment replacements have been completed. A second phase will add 5,000 square feet and more than 20 pieces of equipment. Additions will include an interpretive area with a connection to nature and other state-of-the-art improvements.

“We have a new piece that parents are going to love,” Talley says. “The expression swing allows the parent to face the child. Studies have shown how parents bond with children through facial expressions.”

The expression swings will replace existing swings. The goal for the playground’s next 10 years is to strengthen and expand inclusive play areas that focus on physical, cognitive, communicative, social/emotional and sensory development of the whole child.

“We are still raising funds for the second phase,” Talley says. “We still have a couple thousand dollars to go.”

For more information or to make a donation, visit www.candoplayground.org.

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