Alabama's second universal playground coming to Huntsville

In about a year or so, it will be built at the new recreation center on Taylor Road in Hampton Cove.

Posted: Jul 10, 2019 4:30 PM
Updated: Jul 10, 2019 4:31 PM

Parents in southeast Huntsville are helping to create Alabama’s second universal playground.

In about a year or so, it will be built at the new recreation center on Taylor Road in Hampton Cove.

With temperatures in the high 80s and 90s, kids need somewhere cool to play outside. The universal playground allows for shade all around and gives those who have a special need their own place to play and interact.

Jessica Berkholtz is a part of the committee creating the inclusive playground. The only other one in Alabama is located hours away in Hoover. She said this area will be great for children who have any kind of special need, not just autism.

"Create a common space for children and caregivers of all abilities, to be outside, to get off the television, get off the Xbox, meet someone you might not talk to," Berkholtz said.

Some parents say it will help their kids learn better social skills.

"They can take turns, learn that, practice that. Practice sharing, share the swing, that kind of stuff," a parent, Melissa Jones, said.

Jones has two kids with high-functioning autism and with this design, it will allow for her children to feel safe. The playground will be built with special colors and learning tools, but it also will be fenced in and shaded if the children get too overwhelmed.

"Children get overwhelmed, any child would. They're going to fight or flight," Jones said.

The playground costs $750,000 in total and so far, they've raised $11,000. The City of Huntsville is committing to $50,000, but the group still needs help. They stress this is something everyone can benefit from.

"For typical children to see children with disabilities, being able to interact with them and know that they might be a little different but they're still just a kid," Jones said.

They still have to complete the design and get all the materials, but Jones and Berkholtz can't wait for the day the playground is open.

"It'll be honestly a dream, if we can make this happen and build this for our children, and for all the other children and their parents," Berkholtz said.

The playground will have a special flooring to be wheelchair accessible and will have special material on every play section for those who struggle with basic skills like holding things properly or even hearing complications. To help donate, click HERE.

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