Encouraging Play Amongst All

OTA Students and Dr. Callie Watson stand in front of a rendering of the Inclusive Playground.The Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) students at Central Community College were challenged to come up with a community project that would impact individuals who are unable to fully participate in activities of daily life due to physical or psychological limitations. The OTA students collaborated, coming up with an idea that will leave a lasting impact on the Grand Island community, an inclusive playground. The design includes a variety of active opportunities from imaginative play to adventure play to musical play. 

It is anticipated this project will create a space where future programs, summer camps, and activities can take place. This also provides opportunities for future CCC OTA students to work with individuals in a space that is both fun and educational for everyone.

Inclusive Playground rendering oneThis playground will be an asset for the community of Grand Island for years to come. The playground will be located in Ryder Park, which is centrally located in Grand Island off the Highway 281-corridor making it an easy destination for family fun. 

Inclusive Playground rendering twoThe location was chosen after consideration of several locations throughout Grand Island. Ryder Park offers several amenities currently, including multiple baseball/softball fields, tennis courts, and picnic shelters. The park’s central location is within walking and biking distance for many who may not have access to transportation. The park is in a diverse area that includes single-family homes, multi-family dwellings, business and industry, Head Start, and Mosaic.

Inclusive Playground Rendering ThreeA committee of community members, area leaders, members from Central Community College, and city officials was formed to move this project forward. The committee’s goal is to raise $1.5 million dollars for the construction of the playground and a maintenance endowment. The CCC Foundation is working with the committee to raise funds and pledges by the end of 2022 to complete this community project. The estimate for the playground equipment and construction is $1,146,997. The $250,000 endowment will be held with the Greater Grand Island Community Foundation for use by Grand Island Parks and Recreation to assist in playground maintenance.

Tom and Sue PirnieThanks to the generosity of Grand Island business owners Tom and Sue Pirnie, the 27,000-square-foot facility will be known as the “Pirnie Inclusive Playground.” 

“We are excited to support a project created by CCC students for children of all abilities within Grand Island,” said Tom Pirnie, a member of the CCC Board of Governors since 1994. “Opportunities for area youth and families are vital for the betterment of the community.”

Owners of Grand Island Express and GIX Logistics, the Pirnie family is well known as strong supporters of many community efforts.

“We truly appreciate Tom and Sue Pirnie and others who have pledged their support of this project,” said Cheri Beda, CCC alumni director and community group co-chair. “We are also proud of the OTA students, whose passion drove the inclusive design and led to approval from community leaders and the Grand Island City Council. We are confident that the community will step up to support this inclusive playground and make it a reality for Grand Island.” 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than three million children under the age of 18 have some type of disability (physical, auditory, visual, cognitive or ambulatory), meaning nearly one out of every 25 children face some challenge as they learn, play, and interact with others.

“Playgrounds are so important because they offer opportunities for children to benefit from the physical and social developments of play,” said Todd McCoy, Grand Island Parks and Recreation director. “Because of its central location and design that accommodates children with a wide variety of abilities, the new inclusive playground at Ryder Park will no doubt be a popular family destination.”

Fifteen percent of the funds have been raised and the hope is to have the goal met by year’s end. It is anticipated that playground construction will commence in spring 2023.

Additional information on the project it can be found here.