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Big Dreams For Playgrounds

Sonora, CA — A community group has formed that has plans to build a playground in Tuolumne County that will fit the needs of residents with disabilities.

The group Big Dreams-Universally Accessible Parks and Playgrounds has been organizing for about 18 months, but just received their official non-profit status a month ago. They are working to increase awareness, and raise money, for universally accessible playgrounds in the region.

Group organizer Sarah Garcia says there are several aspects of typical playgrounds that pose challenges for children with disabilities. For example, many have a bark or sand type surface. A specially designed rubber surface is a better fit for children who may be in a wheel chair, or simply have trouble maneuvering. The same idea applies to adults with physical disabilities who are at the park and need to assist their young children. Garcia says universal playgrounds also feature activities that are specifically designed for children who may have unique “play needs” such as vision difficulties or autism. Aspects would include musical items and special sensory activities.

Garcia knows the challenges children can face as her four-year-old daughter Ruby has cerebral palsy, and has experienced difficulty utilizing many local parks and playgrounds.

The group is hoping that the first playground can be located on county property next to the Tuolumne Memorial Hall. The organization plans to bring a proposal before the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors on June 4th. Because of unique aspects, the price tag for this type of playground can be steep, estimated at around $250K-$300K. Garcia says they will be applying for grant money to offset the costs. In addition, the price could be lowered if materials are donated by local businesses and volunteers help with the labor.

Garcia points out that universal playgrounds are all inclusive, and not solely for those with physical or developmental disabilities. There are several in areas like Sacramento, but none in the Mother Lode.

The group’s first community outreach event will be June 1st at Tuolumne Memorial Park from 10am-2pm.

For more information on the group, and to read more about Garcia’s experiences, click here to view the group’s website. They also have an active Facebook page that has over 240 followers.


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