In February, Raymore’s T.B. Hanna Station, a park in the heart of the community, was
announced as the winner of the 2022 Public Works Project of the Year in the Small Cities/Rural
Communities Structures category at the Kansas City Metro American Public Works (APWA)
chapter level. The project has been submitted by the chapter to be considered for the national
award to be announced later this year.
Raymore Parks & Recreation Director Nathan Musteen and multiple staff members worked with
Cook Flatt & Strobel (CFS) Engineers, Unlimited Play and All-Inclusive Recreation to renovate
the three-acre park located at the site of the original Raymore train depot built in 1871.
The renovation was funded in part with a 2016 voter-approved No Tax Increase General
Obligation Bond, the City’s Park Fun and General Fund. Variety Children’s Charity of Greater
Kansas City (Variety KC) provided a $135,000 grant to upgrade the play spaces to be inclusive.
Featuring the Variety KC Inclusive Playground and Variety KC Inclusive Sprayground, T.B.
Hanna Station is the first park in the United States with two universally accessible play spaces
in the same location. In addition, T.B. Hanna Station is the first park in the state of Missouri to
feature a sprayground specifically designed to be fully accessible for people of all abilities.
The Variety KC Inclusive Sprayground includes a custom-designed train that is wide enough to
accommodate wheelchairs, walkers and other assistive devices. The sprayground features a flat
surface with overhead sprinklers, splash buckets, an LED light display and sound effects that
allow individuals of all abilities to play. The inclusive playground features accessible swings and
a climbing apparatus, zip lines, musical instruments and a merry-go-round. Communication
boards in each play area display illustrations to help children with limited language skills to
express themselves and communicate needs and wants.
The park also features The Depot, a covered pavilion with accessible picnic tables that
transforms into an ice skating rink in winter months, a concessions facility and two ADA private
restrooms with ADA benches that are open year-round.
Members of Raymore Parks & Recreation believe that a playground should not be a barrier to a
child, parent or caregiver with different abilities. The majority of playgrounds in the country are
inaccessible to people with disabilities, yet play is a critical part of the cognitive, physical and
social development of every child. Inclusive play environments eliminate social and physical
barriers and allow children with disabilities and able-bodied children to play together, promoting
understanding and new relationships. Inclusive playgrounds also allow parents and other adults
with disabilities to play with their children.
The park is constantly filled with residents and visitors from surrounding communities and even
from out of state.
Raymore resident Lindsay Vanzandt sharing the following message with the department:
“My son is just one kid who benefits when we have accessible playgrounds. When he doesn’t
have to expend energy on assessing the landscape and navigating uneven surfaces… when he
doesn’t get left behind because he can’t climb a ladder fast enough… when he can access
structures in a way that feels safe and easy for him… he gets to just PLAY! Raymore makes me
so proud… families like mine matter and aren’t an afterthought. I am so thankful for the focus
and passion in making Raymore as inclusive as possible.”
Another Raymore resident excitedly commented on social media regarding the grand opening of
T.B. Hanna Station and the Variety KC Inclusive Sprayground: “This is amazing!!! This grandma
in a wheelchair will be playing here with the grandsons!”
These messages are not only heartwarming, but reaffirm that the department’s vision is the right
vision for improving the quality of life of our residents and creating opportunities for people of all
Raymore Parks & Recreation is making accessibility for people of all abilities a top priority in the
Raymore parks system. The city is on its way to becoming one of the first – if not the very first –
city in the United States to be home to three fully accessible inclusive play spaces, with the
addition of the Hawk’s Nest Inclusive Playground at Raymore’s Hawk Ridge Park later this year.
Raymore Parks & Recreation aspires to be an example to other parks and recreation
departments when it comes to incorporating inclusive elements into their communities.
Musteen recently presented on the award-winning T.B. Hanna Station project at the Missouri
Park & Recreation Association’s annual conference in Springfield, along with Todd Polk of CFS
Engineers and Natalie Mackay of Unlimited Play.
Our very own Deb Wiebrecht, Executive Director and Chief Inclusion Office of Variety KC, was featured in an article on IN Kansas City’s website this month!
“Bless Deborah Wiebrecht’s heart—she’s one of the hardest working women in philanthropy. Wiebrecht has been the executive director of Variety Children’s Charity of Greater Kansas City for nearly a decade. With a background in media sales, as on-air talent, and in special events, she says her role at Variety KC is a combination of what she’s learned in business and what she’s committed to in her heart—helping to assist children with disabilities.” – Michael Mackie of IN Kansas City
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Variety KC was recently featured in Macaroni Kid’s Overland Park community newsletter, with over 10,000+ subscribers, and as a spotlight on their website! Read the full article here: All About Variety KC!
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Days before the Super Bowl, Randi Mahomes, a friend of Variety KC and mother of Chief’s quarterback Patrick Mahomes, surprised us in a Facebook post requesting her upcoming birthday gifts be gifted to Variety KC. She set a goal of $250.
Reposting the donation request on the Variety KC page, we quickly saw donations grow to $1,500. Fox 4’s Kathy Quinn jumped in and interviewed Randi…donations hit $3,000, $5,000, $7,000…and more!
As the excitement for the Super Bowl grew, so did the donations.
The night before the Chief’s Celebration parade, Randi Mahomes flew in KC and met up with Deborah Wiebrecht from Variety KC and Kathy Quinn of Fox 4 news. During the biggest time of her son’s career, Randi wanted to meet the kids she was helping, spend time with them and give them their requested gifts.
The story was so touching, Fox 4 didn’t want it to get lost in all the Chiefs related hoopla – and held the story to first air the next Thursday night, 10 pm news, during sweeps week. A time when viewership would be at its absolute highest.
The feedback was tremendous, Randi said it was the best birthday of her life. Her donation, along with a generous donation from The 15 and The Mahomies Foundation, provided inclusive gifts of mobility and communication for so many area kids, including adaptive equipment for the Variety KC inclusive playground at Hospital Hill.
John has fallen in love with basketball, having spent the last season with Matt Bollig and Midwest Adaptive Sports. What he needs is an adaptive wheelchair for to continue his development; with basketball and other sports as well. John’s confidence, fitness, and relationships blossomed as part of this program which is why the family is very excited to encourage him in this way. John was adopted from Uganda, so in addition to “fitting in” as a wheelchair user, he has the added complexity of bridging cultural differences.
“John was adopted from Uganda at the age of seven after the death of his mother during child birth, and his father abandoning him. He spent those years in a home for babies in a poor region of the country, with no individualized care or medical attention. His club feet were never repaired, which relegated him to bear crawling to get around. This eventually led to very serious legions on the outside of his feet which complicated his case. His spina bifida causes bowel and bladder issues for him, and all of this caused the baby home workers to keep him in the bathroom for very long periods of time. Despite this start to his life, John is full of joy, energy, curiosity, and passion. He has flourished in our home, and basketball is now a big part of that for him. This equipment isn’t just about John playing basketball, it’s about allowing him to continue to develop in ways not possible without it!”
Variety KC responds: John received a sports wheelchair from Variety in June of 2019! We are excited to see how this equipment will help you grow! Send us photos of you in action John! Help other kids like John in reaching further than they thought possible. Give today at VarietyKC.org. Thank you!
Ollie seems to have found his calling. His biggest joy is making other people laugh. He is full of life and determined to live it “his way,” even if it means working harder at everything!
Ollie has a neuromuscular disease called SMARD that affects his muscles, including the muscles used for breathing. He has a trach and a ventilator 24/7. He cannot walk on his own or stand without something to hold onto. Still, Ollie is a very active 3-year-old, and has found his own ways of doing things. He uses a gait trainer to walk short distances, and scoots around to get from place to place. He’s become very efficient at his own style of movement. He scoots on his bottom to get around inside, but outside that is harder to do efficiently and safely.
Ollie’s family loves being outdoors. To include Ollie on walks and bike rides, they put him in a bike trailer – but Ollie really wants to ride a big kid bike like his sister. And adaptive bike would allow Ollie to truly participate along with his family and friends, and it would encourage his motivation to keep moving!
An important message from his family:
“We (his family) are used to the way Ollie moves, as well as the machines that help him breathe and keep his airway clear. Understandably, other people aren’t. We love when they ask questions and say hi to him! That’s not typically what happens; many people stare as they walk past or ignore their kid’s curious glances in Ollie’s direction. Seeing him do regular kid things like swing, ride a bike, or go down the slide helps people see the kid behind the disease and machines. Having inclusive playgrounds, bikes, cars, rides, etc. are so important in making that happen, because as hard as we try we can’t always make regular equipment work for him. And seeing the smile on Ollie’s face when he gets to go on a ride like all the other kids makes everything worth it.”
No child should feel invisible. Help us to help all gets to Be Active, Be Social, and Belong. Give today at Varietykc.org.