All-inclusive playground dedicated
The late afternoon was still warm and humid as local elected officials, members of service clubs and, of course, children gathered to dedicate the Kid’s United Community Playground — an all-inclusive playground — at Cochran Primary School.
It was the culmination of a dream that began in 2015, gathering along the way the support of the Kiwanis Club of Williamsport, the Rotary Club, the Williamsport Area School District Education Foundation, the County Commissioners and the community, raising the $505,465 needed for construction.
In his comments before the group, County Commissioner Rick Mirabito said, “Some will say that the cost of the playground is a lot of money. Well, the value of anything we do is always judged by the perspective, the benefit it brings and the wrongs it makes right.”
“For those who have always had access to a playground it may seem like a lot. For those who have had to struggle for inclusion, the cost of the playground is the redemption for all that they’ve missed by being excluded,” he continued.
“This project is one small step to ensure that parents don’t have to fight against exclusion and segregation of their children…I think that we should all understand that what we’ve done is something bigger than build a playground,” Mirabito added.
Mayor Derek Slaughter in his remarks affirmed the city’s commitment to upgrade buildings and parks in the community. Earlier this year, it was announced that the city was beginning an assessment of city parks for usage by the disabled community.
“This playground is part of that upgrade, and it fits right into the mold of what we’re doing citywide,” Slaughter said. “We’ve done a number of upgrades at Memorial Park. We have more scheduled for Lose and at the East End at Shaw (Place) Park and throughout all of our parks in the city.”
County Commissioner Scott Metzger praised the partnership between the groups that made the playground possible and noted that the commissioners have set up a diverse ability committee.
“We meet every third Wednesday to discuss projects such as these and other projects throughout the community that help the diverse ability community throughout the county,” Metzger said.
The Williamsport Area School District has agreed to supply security, insurance and maintenance for the playground, which is located north of the school building.
“Our district is pleased to house this,” Dr. Timothy S. Bowers, district superintendent, said. “We have unbelievably talented custodians and maintenance crew that can keep their eyes on this. This is a significant investment, and we want to make sure it stays in working condition for years to come.”
A group of children waited in anticipation as the ribbon was officially cut and the dedication pledge read. Then, the playground opened for play, amidst a shower of streamers raining down.
During the ceremony, third-grade students at Cochran, triplets Fuller, Noble and Roan Broaddus, also led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by members of the Millionaire Band playing the National Anthem.