MCDONOUGH, Ga. - Children with autism and special needs can now play on an all-inclusive, wheelchair friendly playground designed to adapt to physical disabilities.
"This is what we're all about. Caring for others is a measure of greatness and I saw that here today," says Mayor Billy Copeland of McDonough.
Organizers say it took half a million dollars and four years of fundraising, along with support from the city, to bring the playground to fruition. Lori Harris, executive director of H.O.P.E. Park, tells FOX 5 the playground "levels the playing field" for kids.
"It creates friendships," says Harris. "It creates the ability for children without special needs. It gives them the chance to see that these other children are just human too. They're just like them, they just have a disability."
Lindsey White, a mother of an 8-year-old with autism, started Our World. The nonprofit works alongside H.O.P.E. Park to create programs for children with special needs. White says her son can finally play with his big sister without having to worry about getting hurt.
"Normally when we go to the park, it's kind of difficult for us," says White. "Now that this park is built, everything is all accessible for him and the two of them can play together."
The playground has three different areas for three age groups. Some of the equipment includes a roller table with several rollers on it. It creates a sensory skin map, where the sensation of the rollers comforts children with autism. The various stations allow kids in wheelchairs, walkers or canes to access them.
Our World at Hope Park is hosting a 'Putting the Pieces Together' gala on April 22 and a special needs pageant in the end of April. The money raised will go toward their next fundraiser for a special needs school. The land for the school was recently donated.
For more information, you can visit ourworldathopepark.com