Push for playgrounds to accommodate special needs

- An Apopka dad is pushing city leaders to build more playgrounds that are fun for all kids – including those with special needs. 

“My daughter is 7-years-old and for the last seven years, it’s been a struggle to look around the playground… it’s a struggle to go up ladders and steps,” Stephen Hibbard explained.

He says while his daughter Addison can walk, she struggles with her motor functions.  So a few months ago, Hibbard went to Facebook. He asked people what they thought about getting more options for local kids. 

“You say ‘all abilities, all inclusion,’ you want flat surfaces -- not the mulch chips or sand. Wheel chairs can’t get through that. You want something where all the kids can play together,” Hibbard said. 

It’s an idea 10-year-old Naomi Grabish, who also lives in Apopka, says she supports. She says she visited an all abilities playground in Virginia a few years ago. 

“I thought, ‘Why don’t we have one in Apopka,’” the fifth grader said. “I knew there should be tons of kids with disabilities – including myself.” 

The push has gotten the attention of city leaders.  According to Commissioner Kyle Becker, a new splash bad the city recently opened is easy for people of all needs to access. He says a new playground, which will be built next month, will also include features for children with special needs. 

“We have a security swing. We have types of equipment where they can go up and interact with it without having to climb up on structures like you see behind me with the netting,” Becker said. 

But it doesn’t end there. Hibbard says through fundraising, he hopes to open an even bigger playground in Apopka. All place where all kids can have fun together. 

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