Lathrop, Missouri, held a grand opening of their inclusive playground recently and Variety KC congratulates them on this amazing accomplishment benefitting ALL kids and families!
A town of just a couple thousand people, a million-dollar fundraising goal, and four years of hard work!
“There was a need to replace the playground, so there was an original fundraising group,” said Kendra Gagnon with Friends of Lathrop City Park. The idea of making the park inclusive first started picking up steam in the summer of 2019.
“Every child, every community, every family needs a place to play and a place to gather,” Gagnon said.
The Friends of Lathrop City Park took planning seriously and went all the way to the state to help get the funding needed. They also teamed with Variety KC to make sure it was all-inclusive. Variety also stepped up to help fund the Splashpad portion of the park. Dr. Kendra Gagnon has worked closely with Variety on several projects as their Physical Therapy Advisor – but none were so close to the heart.
“I think people are surprised I think sometimes there’s even a little kind of disbelief that we actually got it done,” Gagnon said.
It was a million-dollar project, a big number for a town of its size. Even so, they have plans to expand – to add a bandstand and redo the basketball courts.“Something that we can say that we did, and something that we can give to our children,” Lathrop Mayor Jennifer Morrison said.
The group says their message to other smaller communities is that projects like this are possible.”There’s nothing like it around, and I think we’re really proud to have something like it here in Lathrop,” Gagnon said.The mayor has already noticed families from other communities coming to Lathrop to hang out and play in the new park.
Let’s All Play!
We’re attaching an Inclusive Playground Guide for you to use if planning a playground, inclusive outdoor/indoor play area or other community gathering space. We’ve compiled this information while building seven inclusive playgrounds, the Variety KC Zoo’s exploration play area, multiple ball fields, sensory areas, and various inclusive additions to facilities around the Kansas City area.
During our journey to make this the most inclusive community possible, we discovered that what builders, playground vendors, and designers told us was “inclusive” – wasn’t. And, that the greatest source for inclusive needs comes from the kids and parents themselves. That’s what we’ve compiled here, a little “tips sheet” to help you to design the most inclusive initiative possible – a place for all kids and all families to gather.
If you have any questions, we are here to help – good luck with your projects, we look forward to seeing them!
Inclusive Playground Guide – Download.
Bring Back the Music!
Bring Back REMO!
Meet Remo – the talented inventor of the giant piano in the movie BIG. He’s also the designer of the sidewalk piano at park by Children’s Mercy Hospital. Unfortunately, just as Variety KC and KC Parks and Rec are about to open the new inclusive park by Children’s Mercy, we found out the musical sidewalk is silent!
We think the giant piano sidewalk is iconic and a beloved part of the park – but we need to raise $5,000 to bring Remo’s team to KC to fix it. It’s simple – just donate today at www.varietykc.org/donate/ and check the box that says “donate in honor of.” Fill in “Piano,” or “Music,” or the name of your favorite musician. We’ll get the idea!
Let’s bring back the music by the park’s opening on October 18th! A great day for ALL kids to PLAY!