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May 21, 2010 10:12 PM by Andy Koen

A playground for every child

There's a new place to play for every child in Colorado Springs. The city's first universally accessible playground will officially be open to public use Saturday.

The playground is located in the Southwest Corner of Memorial Park along Prospect Lake Drive.

The Swing High Project was responsible for fundraising the nearly one million dollars needed to get the playground built.

President Michelle Farrell says special care was given to make sure all of the playgrounds features are accessible by wheelchair.

"For us personally with our daughter, it means a place for her to play that's completely barrier free and full-access and for the community, I think it really is a symbol of the fact that we're going to create a place to play for every single child regardless of their physical ability," Farrell said.

Farrell first became involved in the universally accessible playground movement while living in Los Angeles. 

When the family moved to Colorado Springs, the closest playground for her daughter Abby to play was in Fort Collins.  Abby has spina bifida and says it is much easier to get around here in her wheel chair than at other playgrounds.

"On this playground, it has rubberized surfacing, but on other playgrounds it has rocks or sand."

Despite the hefty price tag of $937,000, no general fund tax dollars were used to pay for the playground. 

Roughly half ($400,000) came from the voter approved Trails and OPen Space (TOPS) program, another $200,000 came from the lottery funded Great Outdoors Colorado and $150,000 from developer fees.

The remaining $187,000 came from non-profit organizations and private charities including the Phil Long Community Grant and Broncos Charities, Gates Family Foundation, El Pomar Foundation, King Soopers, Aerials Gymnastics and the Swing High Project donors.

A grand opening and dedication ceremony will take place Saturday, May 22 from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  There will be live music, entertainment and lots of playing.

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