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Local Group Raises Funds for Gig Harbor Inclusive Playground

Gig Harbor, Wash. – August 9, 2012 – A cooperative effort has been underway, spearheaded by local citizens, to create a Maritime themed Inclusive Play Zone at Gig Harbor’s Crescent Creek Park (3303 Vernhardson). Donations, sponsors and grants will pay for the majority of the structure.

What is special about this playground? First of all the concept of the playground design came from artwork submitted last fall in a contest for children. Local Artondale Elementary student Cassius Via’s idea on an underwater world concept, complimented the existing idea of a fishing vessel play area. The underwater concept was included into a Coral Climber Sand Box element with the help of local volunteer Michael Behrens who serves on the board of directors for Gig Harbor’s non-profit Harbor WildWatch. Behrens, a Marine Biology Professor at Pacific Lutheran University, has designed the Coral Climber to incorporate elements of sea life you would see on the bottom of Gig Harbor bay; geoduck, clams, starfish, anemone, crab, sea cucumber, octopus are included in the design. “Having a marine biologist on our design committee has been an added bonus,” Payne said. “Working with Harbor WildWatch and Shane’s Inspiration to incorporate the playground into their programming is a perfect partnership and expands the opportunity for local children.” Shane’s Inspiration, a nationally recognized designer of accessible playgrounds, will develop a curriculum for local classrooms that will bring thousands of children with and without disabilities together through school field trips, monthly events and school based disability awareness programs. The Peninsula School District is excited about the new partnership.

The rest of the structure is designed to reminisce the older style fishing vessels of Gig Harbor giving children a play area that has climbing, sliding, telescope, ships wheel and more. The entire structure will foster imaginative, cooperative play for all children and the rubberized surfacing will make it accessible to children with mobility devices so they can experience the sensory richness of the maritime sea life that will be embedded around the hull of the boat.

What does “inclusive playground” mean? It means a place to play for all children of all abilities. It eliminates the barriers of traditional playgrounds with innovative construction that celebrates “differences” rather than “deficits”, while fostering an environment and legacy of understanding and compassion in our community.

Donations towards the project have come from the City of Gig Harbor, PenMet Parks, Gig Harbor Rotary, The Morris Family Foundation, Wade and Beth Perrow, and dozens of local individuals. Additionally organizers have received grants from Shane’s Inspiration and Landscape Structures. Closing in on the funding, Stephanie Payne says “This effort will create a remarkable new gathering place for our community and our families, thanks to partnerships and community support. With a few more sponsors and donations, we will be ready to move forward and make this dream a reality.”

If you are interested in helping make this playground a reality in Gig Harbor contact Stephanie Payne at (253) 549-8052 or harborpaynes@comcast.net.