Play for All at Union County's ALL Star Park

In May of 2016, the Miracle League of Union County (MCLU) took a major step toward reaching its goal of making Union County fully inclusive to all adults and children by breaking ground on an all-inclusive playground that will serve the needs of all children, regardless of their varying abilities. The playground, which will be called the “ALL Star Park,” will be located near the Timken Sports Complex. According to UNICEF, despite the fact that children with disabilities have the same need to play as other children, many playgrounds are still exclusive environments where some children are denied access. The ALL Star Park will be part of a growing trend nationwide—to create accessible spaces that offer opportunities for recreation for disabled children and adults alike.  

The photo to the right is an artist’s rendition of what the ALL Star Park will look like when construction is completed. The anticipated date for completion is May of 2017. An announcement of the official grand opening will be made as the completion of the project nears. At this time, the local contractors are in the early phases of the project. However, volunteers will soon be able to assist with construction of the playground equipment. Updates on the park’s progress are available on the MCLU Facebook page

In the photo below, Reginald Means, Kendall Austin, and Mike Kershaw, all volunteers, collaborate on the design of the opening gate of the ALL Star Park. 

The project will cost roughly $350,000; these funds are being raised through both donations and MCLU fundraising efforts. The MCLU has received a $75,000 grant from the Timken Corporation and a $10,000 donation from the Union Rotary Club to assist with these expenses. In addition to this, private individuals are playing a large part of raising the needed funds to complete the project. 

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Amy Austin, MCLU Executive Director, best expressed the reasons behind the efforts of the organization in this project by sharing her vision for what the park can do for children. “Children with autism will be able to run freely with their friends and when they are over stimulated, they will be able to feel safe while exploring the inside of the Cozy Dome,” she stated. “Children with low vision, blindness, and hearing disabilities will learn and have fun alongside their friends at the sensory panels. Parents, grandparents, and caretakers will be able to access much of the equipment and take part as their children make new friends and memories on this playground.” 

In the photo to the right, twins eagerly observe volunteer Travis Bailey, preparing the soil for the construction of accessible playground equipment. When the park is complete, the two children will finally be able to play alongside each other, instead of one of them simply watching on the sidelines, as her brother plays.

Photos courtesy of the MCLU.

Angela Rogers is a teacher, bibliophile, and freelance writer who is a lifelong resident of the Upstate.