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Brookfield Junior Women's Club plans disabled-inclusive playground for Mitchell Park

Club plans new play area for Mitchell Park

Jan. 16, 2013

It'll take some imagination, some elbow grease and a bit of money, but the Brookfield Junior Women's Club is committed to creating a universally accessible playground at Mitchell Park.

To that end, the group hosted Design Day on Tuesday, a gathering of kids and parents for the purpose of brainstorming ideas about what the new playground should offer.

The estimated 9,000-square-foot play area would have features that able-bodied and children with disabilities can enjoy, such as multi-sensory activities, musical and artistic components, and cooperative games built with plastic lumber on top of a soft, rubber surface.

Jenni Jones, member of the Brookfield Junior Women's Club, said the playground will be a major benefit to the community.

"We were looking for a new project and new focus for our organization," Jones said. "We felt this playground was a need and a great way for the community to come together."

Jane Lewis Holman of Leathers and Associates is the architect and project manager for the playground, and has designed nearly 1,000 playgrounds nationwide.

After hearing community input, she sketched a rough draft of a design plan.

"The kids came up with great ideas," Holman said of Tuesday's Design Day. "Some mentioned treehouses, slides and rope-climbing."

The playground will have water misters for summer heat relief and a small amphitheater that could be used to entertain classroom-sized groups, she said.

Excitement building

Shelley Effert of Brookfield is looking forward to playground being built.

Her 10-year-old daughter Miranda Effert is a special needs student at Brookfield Elementary School.

"My daughter suffers from a congential heart defect and had a heart transplant three years ago," Effert said. "She wants to do things like the monkey bars, but it's extremely difficult."

A universally accessible playground would allow Miranda to play with her brothers, ages 8 and 9.

"She wants to do everything she sees them doing," Effert said. "I think this is an awesome initiative."

Community effort is vital

Holman said this project requires heavy community participation in order to be successful.

Still in its beginning stages, there are no estimated costs for the playground, but donations of money and materials will be needed.

"The first step is building a committee that would identify the needed materials and implement a fundraising plan," she said. "Reaching out and connecting with people in the community, like civic organizations, church groups, and businesses, for sponsorship is important."

Holman said hundreds of people will be needed for the planned five-day build.

"This is a community effort," she said. "It's going to take everyone."

Volunteers are needed to build the playground, but to also support those who are working.

"Sometimes food is donated from restaurants, but other times it's individuals bringing casseroles or sandwiches," Holman said. "Nothing is too small to bring forward."

Get involved

Learn more, volunteer or donate by contacting Jenni Jones at (414) 588-2055 or at jennijones@hotmail.com.

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