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ADA Playground Equipment for Parks

A local mother and a grandmother are asking the Chillicothe City Council to provide playground equipment that can be easily accessed and used by individuals with physical limitations. "We have several families in this town with different disabilities," said Kimberly Kimbrough, paternal grandmother to a special needs boy. "Some kids can't use their hands and fingers. Some can't use their legs. Some use crutches to walk with, walkers, wheelchairs... they have different needs. The way the parks are set up now, there's not access. There are no ramps." Additionally, the wood chips used as ground cover at the playground cause wheelchairs to sink when entering the playground, she said. The inability to utilize local playgrounds compounds the day-to-day struggles that children already experience by having some kind of handicap, Kimbrough said. "It's like they are singled out because they have a disability, and they can't participate in things that go on in Simpson Park," she said. Kimbrough and the boy's mother, Kelsie Cooper, attended Monday night's City Council meeting, along with Kelsie's son, Braydon Kimbrough, who uses a wheelchair. Braydon has little to no movement in the majority of his joints. Cooper takes her son to Cameron, 40 miles away, for him to visit a playground. Cameron has an easily accessible playground complete with a ramp that goes to the play equipment, and a path with a slide and other activities. She also noted that the city of Trenton is establishing a handicap-accessible playground. The social benefits of playground activities are stifled for all children when a child with physical limitations is unable to visit a playground, Cooper said. She stated that she feels that the city is not meeting ADA requirements. "At this point, all of this stuff has been brought to my attorney's attention," Cooper stated. "I don't want to go that route, but we need to get something and get these kids involved in the community. We can't put it under the rug for much longer."

CAPTION: The swing set at Simpson Park once had an ADA swing, but the swing broke due to improper usage and was removed a couple years ago. Other ADA swings are at Danner Park and Clay Street Park. C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley

The council was receptive of the idea of establishing a handicap-accessible playground area with equipment. "Maybe, we can all get together and make this happen," said Councilman-at-Large David Moore. "We know we need to do it." There is $3,500 set aside in the 2017-18 city budget for playground equipment, of which some will be used to buy handicap-accessible equipment. That amount, however, is not enough to buy a large piece of equipment. City Administrator Ike Holland stated that the city has been trying to make a concerted effort to make all of the city's playgrounds accessible to everyone. "The park board, Josh and myself have been looking at ideas for specialized play areas," Holland stated Tuesday. "This effort will continue. As we do long-range planning, we will include handicap-accessible playground areas." Cooper offered her assistance in helping the council understand some of the ADA rules, working with Parks Director Josh Norris to help identify appropriate playground equipment for children with varying abilities and of different ages. "We are willing to help in any way we can," she said. "We need to figure out something we can do to help you guys, the city and the community, and the other children and the parents of children with disabilities who can't take their children to a park because they have no access." " I feel like if we are paying taxes for parks that should be taxes for parks for everybody in the city." She also noted that people in wheelchairs can't watch their grandchildren play in the parks because the parks are not accessible enough.

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