By Barry Dalton
MEXICO–Audrain County has a new park in Mexico, Mo., and it’s getting a thumbs up from parents and children.
“This is the first time we’ve been here, said Mexico parent, Summer Gibson. “But we were super excited to come. And I think it’ great and it offers a different variety of all kinds of different things to play on. It’s cool.”
“I love this park,” agreed Brett Workes, another parent from Mexico. “It is inclusive for the disabled and kids really love it, and I like the astroturf.”
The Audrain Developmental Disabilities Services Board (ADDS) donated $100,000 to the City of Mexico’s Parks and Recreation Department to help fund the safe, inviting, all-inclusive playground at Plunkett Park in Mexico.
ADDS funded the installation of artificial turf surfacing and rubber tile surfacing to make the playground more wheelchair friendly and more appealing for small children.
“It’s really cool equipment,” said ADDS Executive Director Tim Crews. “There’s a rocker that you can just roll or walk right on it and it kind of sways up and down.”
The Parks Department paid for the playground equipment, and members of the ADDS Board also served on the parks committee that designed the playground. While not every part o the park is 100-percent accessible for all disabilities, Mexico Parks Director Chad Shoemaker says it’s pretty close.
“It’s meant to attract all children,” Shoemaker explained. “If your child has limitations, you get to play with other kids. All the kids can play on the spinner or the grass mound, they can all play together. We have parents who currently drive all the way to St. Louis for this type of playground.”
The new playground includes a double decker play tower with bottom steps low enough for small children, a mound with artificial turf surfacing, a ladybug rocker, and a spinner and a rocker that are both wheelchair accessible.
“It’s for all kids, it’s for people who have difficulties with mobility, it’s for adults or grandparents with kids, children and adults in wheelchairs, kids with walkers, or anyone else. It’s all inclusive,” Crews noted.
People with developmental disabilities often have mobility issues, Crews added, and so do a lot of other people in the community including some caregivers.
“We wanted to reach out and allow even more people in the community to benefit from some of our developmental disability funds,” Crews said.
ADDS’s participation in the project also recognizes the long-time service of late ADDS board members Marlin Fisher and Lester Meine. Community members who serve on the board are unpaid volunteers.
Plunkett Park is an 84-acre park bordering Mexico High School at 1201 Park Road. The park’s main feature is Kiwanis Lake, a three-acre fishing pond with an ADA accessible dock. Plunket also has restrooms, picnic shelters and a one-mile trail winding through native trees. The new playground cost approximately $200,000.