ESMMYC Special Guest Speaker Touts All-Inclusive Playground in Fort Mill Area

by Liz Duda

Oct. 22, 2018 update: The playground will be installed in the City of Tega Cay at Trailhead Park (see Tega Cay announcement here).

York County, SC (Sep. 1, 2018) Eat Smart Move More York County (ESMMYC) members now understand why all-inclusive playgrounds are so important to our community. And admire the efforts of community members who have come together, with local businesses and the town, to build one in the Fort Mill area. The playground will serve students in the Fort Mill School District and other communities. Lori Christison is in a unique position to understand the need for this initiative, given her early-intervention work in speech/language pathology. She took the time to describe the playground’s plans, benefits and challenges at the recent ESMMYC general meeting.

Christison explained that some families cannot take advantage of local playgrounds due to physical or other developmental disabilities. But the “All Play Together” video showed how even people with disabilities can enjoy the (really cool!) equipment. Why is this important? Not only is a playground fun, but it is an important place for children to learn social, communication, cognitive and problem-solving skills, and build confidence and independence.

All Play Together has a ten-member board dedicated to bringing an inclusive playground to the Fort Mill area. After 18 months of fundraising, they are at 60% of their $550,000 goal and continuing to raise awareness and funds for the playground. This is a grassroots effort, relying on donations from individuals and corporations. The Town of Fort Mill has offered the land (location to be determined, but within the boundaries of the Fort Mill School District) and to maintain the playground.

The goal is to build an inclusive playground that can be enjoyed by the surrounding communities. The closest one is in North Mecklenburg County. Though Rock Hill plans to build a Miracle Park, the growing York County can support more than one inclusive playground – and the Fort Mill group is driven to meet this need. Christison highlighted that an inclusive playground is for all ages and abilities, not just for people with special abilities. For example, adults in wheelchairs can interact with their children/grandchildren on the playground. While many playgrounds don’t have offerings for young toddlers, All Play Together will include one play structure that allows 360-degree visibility. ESMMYC members were impressed by the vast playground equipment offerings, e.g., offering something to address sensory overload is a great acknowledgement.)

Do you want to learn more, or help? See the All Play Together webpage; online giving page to make a tax-deductible gift to this 501(c)3 charitable organization; All Play Together Video; All Play Together Rocks Facebook page, or Twitter feed (#AllPlayTogetherFortMill). Also be on the lookout for the November 3, 2018, tile-painting event; pancake breakfast; and monthly-dine dates.