WAILUA — Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami took time Friday to lead the blessing of the state’s first fully inclusive playground at Lydgate Park, adjacent to the Kamalani Playground and in close proximity to the park’s main pavilion.
“During my first weeks in office, I met with a group of mothers of children living with autism,” Kawakami said. “From them, I learned that we had no playground tailored to children living with disabilities. On that day, we made a promise, and I am proud of our Department of Parks and Recreation team for their work to make this inclusive playground a reality for keiki living with disabilities.”
The inclusive playground addresses physical, social, emotional, sensory, communication, and cognitive activities children living with developmental disabilities encounter. The facility that was budgeted for $400,000 allocated from the General Fund, Capital Improvements Projects Fund, and the Lihu‘e District Special Trust Fund for Parks & Playgrounds Fund. The facility also includes swinging, spinning, sliding, climbing, and balancing equipment.
Danielle Sagum of Inspired Play LLC, the project’s contractor, said about 85 children in 1,000 suffer from disabilities, and of the 85, more than half do not display signs of disability.
The equipment that has earned an Inspired Play National Demonstration Site offers inclusion for keiki to play together and create pleasant childhood memories.
“I would like to thank the Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park, the Leadership Kaua‘i, Class of 2022, and everyone for their continued support and contributions to this project, and our children,” Kawakami said.
Construction for the playground started in the fall of 2021 and its completion was marked by the blessing ceremony that included guests from the Unified team who created the special lei that was cut to mark the opening.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.
Source: The Garden Island