ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) – The newest addition to Storybook Land in Aberdeen opened Thursday, and is one of the first inclusive playgrounds in the state.
The former sand playground in the center of storybook land was removed last year to make way for a new inclusive playground, which features a wheelchair ramp system, an autistic dome, and a wheelchair-accessible teeter totter and merry-go-round.
”The inclusiveness just means that it’s pretty much open to children of all abilities. There’s access for them here. There’s elements for them to be included in with other children that are playing at the time,” said Aberdeen Parks and Recreation Director Mark Hoven.
Aberdeen Parks and Recreation got the idea for the playground from requests made by local families.
”This idea was fomented a few years back when we were approached by families that had children that they wanted to build a handicapped swing for. We told them at that time that maybe we should look at something broader than that and bigger than that,” said Hoven.
The total project cost $510,000. It was funded by grants and a $200,000 donation from Avera to celebrate 120 years of healthcare in Aberdeen last year.
The park is named after Nano Nagle. Nagle was the founder of the Presentation Sisters, who co-founded Avera Health.
Avera staff say it is part of their mission to create inclusivity in communities.
”Creating environments like this, we make that happen, because they’re all welcomed, regardless of whatever adversity they’re facing in life,” said Lizzie Guiliani, Avera St. Luke’s Vice President of Mission.
The former equipment from the sand pit playground will be moved to a different location in Storybook Land this fall.