Florence community builds area’s first inclusive playground

Florence Inclusive Playground

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The city of Florence and the organization “I PLAY Florence” have teamed up to create the area’s first inclusive playground called B.K’s Playground.

Officials said for a long time, kids in Florence with disabilities weren’t able to go down slides or enjoy a swing. However, now with the playground, every kid can be a kid.

"It’s important to Florence that we offer something that appeals to everyone,” Darlene Buchanan, the city’s Recreation Manager, said.

Buchanan said the purpose of B.K’s Playground, located at 513 Barnes Street, is so all children, regardless of abilities can play together.

“Make it a playground where if you have multiple children, some who have challenges and some who don’t, they can all come together and play at the same place,” Buchanan said.

The park was funded through two grants and city contributions totaling $225,000.

The playground is wheelchair and walker accessible.

It features regular slides and swings, but there’s also adaptive swings, climbing equipment, a teeter totter with wheelchair accessibility, a merry-go-round accessible for all children, a zip line designed for children with limited upper-body mobility and much more.

“Children in wheelchairs can actually go up the ramp and into the device and enjoy some challenging play that wasn’t available in our area,” Buchanan said.

Its name, B.K’s Playground, pays homage to the late Brian Kelley, a founding member of I PLAY Florence who passed away in 2017.

“He had a great desire to see this park come to fruition and we lost Brian much too early,” Buchanan said.

It’s a project Brian New, an I PLAY Florence board member, said the organization has been working on for four years.

“It is going to be a great day Friday when we have our grand opening. It’s been a long time coming,” New said.

While he’s not a parent of a disabled child, he cares for children with all abilities everyday as the CEO of the Florence area YMCA.

“There’s so many children out there with disabilities that can’t run, jump like other kids and they go to the playground, they have to sit on the sidelines while the other kids play on the equipment,” New said.

Buchanan said the playground is part of the ultimate vision for the 500 block of Barnes Street to be recreation based.

“This is a full city block of nothing, but leisure time activities that families can come to and point to this facility as being something they can do in their leisure time,” Buchanan said.

The grand opening and dedication ceremony is Friday at 5 p.m.

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