Just like any kid, 4-year-old Abe loves playing at the park.
“He loves to run, jump and play just like all other typical 4 year olds,” said his mother Sarah Meitner.
But sometimes, it’s harder for Abe to move around compared to other children because of the lack of accessible playground equipment.
“Abe has down syndrome,” she said.
Meitner said gravel, sand, steep steps and swings are just few of Abe’s challenges when getting around the park
“He’s just too big for the toddler swing,” she said. “But, he doesn’t have the core muscles to sit on just a traditional swing and really soar high.”
She said Abe also doesn’t have the stability with his running and jumping, like other kids do.
Abe is not alone, Meitner said there are about 1,400 individuals with disabilities in the area.
So, it was important to give Abe and other people with disabilities a safe place to play.
Meitner and Hays ARC Park Accessible Recreation Complex teamed up to make a $1.6 million accessible complex right next to the existing Seven Hills Park.
“We’re going to put a baseball field, splash pad and an inclusive playground,” activities director of the ARC Central Plains Brent Kaiser said. “We’ll raise all of the funds, work with the company to get it built and will give it over to the city.”
The city gave them a go to start fundraising, and Kaiser said he hopes the community, various fundraisers and grants can help pay for the complex.
“We really want to make a park that is inclusive and accessible for everyone,” Meitner said. “We will have non stainless steel slides for children with cochlear implants and give small, quiet spaces for kids on the autism spectrum.”
Kaiser said the complex won’t be ready until mid 2019, depending on how fundraising goes. So for now, Abe will be patiently waiting for his new park.