Children could be enjoying The Awesome Spot playground at Beyer Community Park in north Modesto by 2018. But before the play comes the work of raising the money to build it.
At a public meeting last week, the conceptual plan for the $2.5 million inclusive playground was unveiled and a brochure showing sponsorship opportunities was made available.
Now, the real work is going to begin, and we can’t wait to bring this park to our community for all the children and adults who will benefit from it.
Rachel Loredo, Modesto-area mom helping spearhead The Awesome Spot effort
Contribution levels printed in the guide range from $500,000 playground name sponsors to $100 book purchase donations. (Forty-four copies of the book “Rainbow Rhino” are available. Homer the Rainbow Rhino is the playground’s mascot.) In between are a variety of playground features available for sponsors to purchase: roller slides at $20,000, adaptive swing sets at $10,000 to $12,000, signs at $5,000, the entry gate at $50,000, benches or picnic tables at $6,000, and more.
An inclusive playground is one where children with disabilities can play side by side with able-bodied peers, or disabled parents can join their kids on equipment. The Awesome Spot effort is being led by a team that includes community advocates and staffers from the city, O’Dell Engineering and Shane’s Inspiration, a Southern California-based nonprofit organization.
The overarching theme of The Awesome Spot is nature, which will be reflected in three play areas: Swamp Cruise, Rain Forest Excursion and Savanna Safari. At Wednesday’s meeting, O’Dell landscape architect Chad Kennedy went over planned playground highlights and how The Awesome Spot will provide social inclusion, sensory stimulation and creative play.
When the inclusive playground does open, families won’t have to wait decades for a centerpiece oak tree to mature. Planners say an existing oak will be relocated to Beyer from Tuolumne River Regional Park.
In the safari area is a water-play feature where children can open and shut gates to manipulate the flow. It’s a social play station with different levels so children using wheelchairs and walkers can join in the fun with able-bodied peers. Drums and xylophones provide auditory and tactile stimulation. Creative play includes rockers designed like dirt bikes, on which children can “chase” the antelope on the savanna, and a stationary jeep vehicle with an open back so kids can roll on in wheelchairs.
The Swamp Cruise area includes a similar play vehicle – a swaying airboat children can enter by foot or wheelchair. Near it is a sitting/climbing feature that looks like a crocodile swimming up to the boat.
The rainforest is the biggest area of The Awesome Spot because it’s designed for children up to age 12, who need more room to play. A highlight there is the aviary and sensory perch, where children can climb or sit at various levels depending on their abilities. It encourages creative play by letting children pretend they’re little birds in a big cage, Kennedy said.
There are different levels of corporate sponsorship, anywhere from – well, as much as they want to give, right? If somebody wants to pay for it all, we are on board.
Chad Kennedy, landscape architect with O’Dell Engineering
The cage also is a big set of chimes, he said. Using mallets, kids can strike individual chimes or create pleasant sounds with a big swoop. “Along with the auditory sensations, we’re actually able to accommodate other sensory needs, too,” Kennedy said. “When you hit with a mallet, there’s a sensation in your arm, in your joints. That’s just as important as the auditory stimulus.”
The playground is all about creating a variety of stimulation experiences – tactile, visual, auditory, elevation, spatial, motion – important to child development. And for children who need to retreat from sensory overload, there are spots such as the savanna’s “cozy hut” into which they can retreat. “We’re trying to think of all the sensory needs children have, especially those with sensory processing disorder,” Kennedy said.
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327
How to help
- To learn more about The Awesome Spot, go to www.theawesomespotplayground.com or www.facebook.com/TheAwesomeSpotPlayground.
- To request a sponsorship packet, contact Rachel Loredo at www.theawesomespotplayground.com/contact-us.html or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Boyett Petroleum will have a recycling event Jan. 14 to benefit The Awesome Spot through the city of Modesto’s Park Partnership Program. Accepted will be CRV bottles and cans, scrap metal and plastic, e-waste, toners, cartridges and cellphones. On-site document shredding will be offered, with a limit of five banker boxes per person. The event will be from 10 a.m. to noon at the Cruisers station at McHenry and Kiernan avenues. To learn more, visit boyett.net/community.