Time to play

Fundraiser for Starin Park Playground

Children play on a We-Go-Round wheelchair accessible merry-go-round that will be placed in Starin Park as a part of the all-inclusive playground equipment efforts.

Children play on a We-Go-Round wheelchair accessible merry-go-round that will be placed in Starin Park as a part of the all-inclusive playground equipment efforts.

Dauntae Green, Lifestyle Editor

The Kiwanis Breakfast Club and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater are teaming up to raise money for all-inclusive playground equipment at Starin Park that is accessible for youngsters to enjoy in their wheelchairs. The joint venture still needs to raise about $21,500 to reach its goal of providing the fun play space. 

“The new piece of equipment is called a We-Go-Round, which is a merry-go-round designed to allow wheeled mobility devices to fit in comfortably so all children can enjoy the experience. The We-Go-Round has a center post wheel for all children to use and create the spinning motion from inside and outside. The We-Go-Round encourages social play for all children as both riders and pushers while they cooperate to make this a fun experience for all,” said city of Whitewater public relations and communications manager Kristin Mickelson.

The hope for this playground is that kids will be able to use it to help improve their body strength, along with their cognitive skills, such as problem solving. The new equipment being brought in will also help bring more imaginative play for children to socialize.

“It’s everybody in the community that it’s all inclusive, meaning that wheelchairs and walkers can act. That’s the main purpose of it. This is a project that has been in process for three years,” said Lorrie Koppein from the Whitewater Kiwanis Breakfast Club. 

Donations have already been coming through from many parts of Whitewater, and even other states. Some of these donations are from the Wisconsin Upper Michigan District, the Lion’s Club and through the university as well. The project also earned a grant from the Christopher Reeves Foundation. 

The goal for the Kiwanis Breakfast Club and UW-W is all about getting the funding for new equipment to provide some fun for these kids. Statistically, the Whitewater Unified School District has many students and staff who are wheelchair bound, and UW-Whitewater specializes in education and facilities for the disabled.

Gerber Leisure Products estimates the project will cost about $39,500 with equipment manufactured by Landscape Structures. There are $18,200 pending revenues for the project, and the university will absorb an additional $10,000 installation cost as “in kind” working directly with the city recreation department and Gerber Leisure Products. Tentative site preparation will be carried out by the City of Whitewater Parks Department.

“I think it’s important because one of our oldest parks in town had a playground there when I was growing up, but it wasn’t inclusive. This Starin Park Playground is inclusive and that’s really important. I thank our whole community because it’s very important for all children to have access to playground equipment,” said Whitewater Community Foundation assistant Bonnie Miller.

To learn more about the Starin Park Playground project or to make a donation visit http://whitewatercommunityfoundation.org/donate/.

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