Frisco park aims to provide fun for special needs kids

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by JASON WHEELER

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwheelertv

WFAA

Posted on April 5, 2013 at 10:30 PM

Updated Saturday, Apr 6 at 1:34 PM

Hope Park

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FRISCO -- Six-year-old Ella Mitchell has cerebral palsy, which makes her different than her contemporaries. But in some ways, she is just like every other little kid.

“If you can get her in a swing that is made for her, she will swing to her heart’s content," said her mother, Andrea Mitchell.

The problem is, it can be difficult to get Ella into a swing. She and other children with limitations often encounter playgrounds that are limited, too.

We met Ella at a playground in Richardson, where pretty much the only items easily accessible to her were some spinning blocks. The slides, the swings, and the monkey bars were all just unattainable temptations, her mother lamented.

“When you bring her to a place like this, you are just showing her something she can’t have," her mother said. “It’s heartbreaking for both of us. It’s heartbreaking for me that she can’t enjoy a typical playground.”

So an atypical playground may be the answer. And Friday, they started building one in Frisco.

It’s a playground that organizers say will be unlike any other in North Texas -— one able to accommodate a lot of children with a variety of special needs.

Those who conceived the project point out that about nine percent of students in Frisco schools are in special education programs because of sensory, speech, developmental, or physical delays.  Yet, they say there is no public place locally that is built with those kids in mind.

Andrea Mitchell said she’s tried out other parks in North Texas that have some accommodations for her daughter, but nothing like what she sees in the plan at Hope Park.

“On the scale that they’re doing it, with the amount of pieces for special needs kids that they are going to have, there’s nothing I have ever seen at any of the places we have gone and traveled that there is anything like this," she said.

Her hope is that by mid-May, outings to the playground will become a lot more fun for her and for Ella.   That's the timeline for the completion of Hope Park, but to meet that goal, organizers say they will need more volunteers.

To learn more about the project and ways you can be part of it, click this link.

E-mail jwheeler@wfaa.com

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