Grand opening for Saluda Shoals Park’s Universally Inclusive Playground

Grand opening of inclusive park

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission (ICRC) and the Saluda Shoals Foundation will celebrate the grand opening of the new Universally Inclusive Playground at Saluda Shoals Park. The celebration will take place Aug. 24 at 9:30 a.m.

The park is located at 6071 St. Andrews Rd. in Columbia. Refreshments will be provided following a ribbon cutting and playground naming ceremony. Entrance sculptures and the donor wall, created by artist Greg Fitzpatrick, will be unveiled. The public is invited to attend.

“Our new inclusive playground is designed to create a myriad of play opportunities. It not only meets accessibility requirements, but follows universal design principles to provide a place where children and adults of all abilities can play together,” Executive Director of the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission Mark Smyers said.

“This playground allows children, parents, grandparents and other caregivers, both able bodied and special needs, to partake and explore all of the fun, educational, and inclusive opportunities we have to offer. We hope the community will enjoy our playground for years to come.”

The two-acre playground includes: a treehouse village offering a roller slide/roller table, balance beams, spinning elements, and crawling tunnels; a hillside slope featuring various slides including one to accommodate a parent holding their child; a swing area with high back, bucket, and belt swings as well as a platform swing capable of holding a person in a wheelchair; a sound garden including drums, chimes, and bells shaped like flowers; and a nature area with a shade covered glider, animal sculptures, and accessible merry-go-round.

Additional Features include a restroom designed to address the needs of children and adults with physical disabilities, picnic shelter, misting stations, and numerous benches.

Saluda Shoals Park’s playground was inspired by Leo Bugenske, a five-year-old little boy who was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and requires 24/7 skilled care. Leo’s family was seeking a way to address a need for Leo and other children and adults with disabilities by providing an interactive and accessible playground.

“The Saluda Shoals Foundation is extremely grateful to the community for their support,” Director of the Saluda Shoals Foundation Dolly Patton said. “The Foundation received financial and in kind donations totaling $1.7 million from more than 300 individuals, businesses, and organizations to create this incredible play space for our community.”

Saluda Shoals Park’s Inclusive Playground was made possible through a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) as well as generous donations from the CW & Dorothy G Love Foundation, Leo’s Pride, Dominion Energy, Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Colonial Life, the Michael J. Mungo Foundation and numerous individuals, businesses, and organizations throughout the community.

Donations of construction services were received from Contract Construction, C.R. Jackson, Inc. & N.W. White Co., Coogler Construction, and Windham Services. The playground was designed by Grimball Cotterill Landscape Architects and the contractor on this project was Contract Construction.

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