What's happening with Clayton's Universal Playground?
Remember the talk of building a place where children of all abilities could laugh, play, and interact in a safe, welcoming environment?
Wondering what happened to the efforts to create the Universal Playground at East Clayton Community Park?
Well, those plans are back on – in a big way! There's new energy and some new faces behind the recently re-launched capital campaign to make this amazing park a reality! CHECK OUT THIS NEW WEBSITE!
The Town of Clayton initiated a public-private partnership with Clayton Community Recreational Foundation, Inc. in 2014. That non-profit, 501(c)3 organization has been helping the community support family events, parks and other Clayton recreation activities for more than 2 decades. The Mayor & Council dedicated land at the Town's newest and largest park on Glen Laurel Road, East Clayton Community Park. They also hired CLH Design of Cary to draft the concept and cost analysis for this one-of-a-kind, destination playground.
Now, Clayton Community Recreational Foundation, Inc has hired T&T Creative, a Raleigh advertising agency that works with charitable organizations, to re-energize the capital campaign and achieve the goal raising $700,000 in the next year and opening this playground.
Jan Craig, a Clayton mother of a 6-year-old little girl with special needs, told the crowd at the recent campaign re-launch in Town Council Chambers that she actually got a concussion trying to help her daughter on a playset at a traditional playground. She avoids them now.
“My daughter barely walked until she was three, so I would be on a playground having to help her just get to the playground, helping her get up the stairs to a slide that often times would end up being too steep for her even to go down,” said Craig. “None of the children would interact with her, she’s special needs, her mom is helping her with every step. And for me, there’s no interaction with other moms either because I’m very busy helping her.”
For Craig, the Universal Playground would mean there will finally be a place in her hometown that's useable and exciting for all children, no matter what their limitations.
Children of all abilities need to be able to have playtime to enhance their growth and development," said Craig, a Johnston County mother of a special needs child. "This is not always an easy thing to accomplish for children with various disabilities. Soon our children will be gathering in Clayton to play safely in this space designed with everyone's needs in mind."
Bridgett Bailey, of the MOMS Club of Clayton, says she looks forward to educating the community and children about the importance of inclusion play.
My son interacting with special needs children has helped him understand how to interact with them, and ultimately, I hope, it will lead to him having more compassion for special needs children, as he gets older," said Bailey. "I think this is something all kids should experience."
We hope you’ll want to learn more about how you can help create this joyful place for children to play
Go to the Clayton Recreational Foundation's Playground Facebook page to learn more, Universal Playground at East Clayton Community Park.
For further information about the new effort of Clayton Community Recreational Foundation, Inc. please contact T&T Creative Group Corporate Development Director Lyn Purkerson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-589-2523, ext. 710.
Join the Generous Supporters
Already, businesses and private donors have given major support.
- Automatic Rolls of North Carolina, a major employer in Clayton, pledged $50,000. “We view Celebration Playground as a significant new amenity for all the citizens of Clayton and Johnston County, as well as the families of our employees,” said Richard Tommy, plant manager of Automatic Rolls. “It’s another reason for us all to feel great about living and working in Clayton.”
- $10,000 donated through Clayton resident Margaret Lawson Frook in honor of a family member with special needs
- The Archway Foundation, founded by Chris Archer, donated $4,000. The Clayton High School graduate pitches for the Tampa Bay Rays in Major League Baseball's American League.
- Walmart and Sam's Club, including Walmart of Clayton and 10 regional locations awarded community grants to the playground
- Sheetz, Inc. gave $1,000
- Caterpillar Building Construction Products division donated site preparation for the playground.
The playground would incorporate physical activities to build strength, social interaction and communication to make friends, cognitive elements to help develop personalities and sensory elements to delight children through sight, sound and touch. The playground would be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and will incorporate special ramps which would make it easy for adults and children who have difficulty moving around on ground covered with uneven grass, sand, straw or mulch.
“On behalf of all of our kids…THANK YOU,” said Candice Collier- Lang, a parent of two daughters, one with special needs, who was a member of the initial community focus group that helped kick-start the playground effort. “Thank you to Mayor Pro Tem Michael Grannis, Councilman Butch Lawter and the town council members for supporting the inclusive park and supporting the needs of our kids!”
The playground would be located at East Clayton Community Park, a 60-acre park, on Glen Laurel Road. The park already features many firsts for Clayton, including a regulation-size baseball field, regulation-size soccer field and the Town’s first multi-purpose playing field. The Universal Playground would sit under a canopy of trees adjacent to convenient parking, an attractive stone pavilion with restrooms, and a beautiful 1-mile walking trail.
"It’s not just that a playground is what most children view as a necessity to make East Clayton Community Park a “real park”, it’s that we are approaching this project with the unique opportunity for everyone to participate," said Parks & Recreation Director Larry Bailey. "This project will have a major impact on our community by conveying a message that our town cares about all of our citizens."