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Second design workshop coming for Awesome Spot inclusive playground

Meeting on "Awesome" Modesto playground

Residents give input on inclusive playground at Beyer Park for disabled and able-bodied kids alike. Deke Farrow/jfarrow@modbee.com
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Residents give input on inclusive playground at Beyer Park for disabled and able-bodied kids alike. Deke Farrow/jfarrow@modbee.com

A rough conceptual design for the inclusive playground planned for Beyer Community Park will be shared with the community at a meeting this month.

The Awesome Spot, as it’s been dubbed, will allow children with disabilities to play side by side with able-bodied children. It also will be accessible to parents with disabilities to join their children on the playground.

Parent Rachel Loredo, who proposed the playground, is working with city staff, O’Dell Engineering and others on its planning, and is leading the fundraising effort. Wednesday, she received the conceptual design draft from Shane’s Inspiration, the Southern California-based nonprofit organization that entered into an agreement with the city in March to provide design and other services at no cost.

“It’s gonna be amazing – so much activity, so much inclusion,” Loredo said Thursday morning after having examined the conceptual design. “And it’s going to be newer equipment you don’t think of as being inclusive until you realize, ‘Hey, my mom is on the teeter-totter with me’ ... or there’s a big boat that swings and children with wheelchairs are on it along with other kids.”

The biggest thing we want to stress is we want to invite the community to come and see the direction this is heading, to get some more input. We want to show them more examples of the inclusive play equipment we’re thinking of including.

Rachel Loredo

The playground will have one area with activities for children ages 2 to 5 and another for older children, Loredo said. “There also will be features that are not necessarily inclusive but are there because we want it to be for everyone.” A news release from the city said The Awesome Spot “will offer fully accessible and sensory-rich play equipment that will enrich and integrate the lives of children with and without disabilities and their families.”

Loredo and Nathan Houx, the city’s acting parks planning and development manager, don’t want to say much more about the design in advance of the July 13 community meeting, she said. They’re more interested in getting people out to see it for themselves, in an interactive environment.

The draft conceptual design was based on a drawing submitted after Loredo, Houx and Chad Kennedy of O’Dell led a first community-input meeting May 18. So the next meeting is “not an unveiling. We’re showing what we’ve come up with so far,” Loredo said. “It’s totally going to change. The gal from Shane’s put this together (based on the May 18 input) and picked and chose what equipment would fit best in there. We’ll go back to what she gave us and what more we get from the community.”

At the upcoming meeting, Loredo said, playground planners hope for turnout by immediate neighbors of Beyer Community Park. Fliers will be passed out around the park urging turnout “since obviously this is going to be their neighborhood park,” she said. “We want them to come and see what we’re bringing to the park.”

The July 13 design workshop will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at The Century, 927 10th St.

Loredo said the playground effort is moving “right on track” and she hopes to start fundraising in September, at a kickoff where the design will be unveiled and partnership packets will be distributed.

In the meantime, a crowdfunding page has been established at https://www.gofundme.com/theawesomespot for people interested in making smaller donations. As of Sunday evening, it had raised $1,210 of its $15,000 goal.

For more information about the workshop, or if you are interested in helping Loredo as she leads the fundraising effort, email her at info@theawesomespotplayground.com.

For more on The Awesome Spot, go to https://www.facebook.com/TheAwesomeSpotPlayground or www.theawesomespotplayground.com.

Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327

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