CARTHAGE, Texas (KETK) It’s been a longer road than originally expected, but an all-abilities playground is coming to the city of Carthage after partnering with the Panola College Occupational Therapy Assistant program.
“Just like the rest of the world, we had momentum. We spent at least six months working with a vendor called Game Time, a wonderful group of people, who specialize in building all-abilities parks. We really wanted to get it right. We think BIG in Carthage.”Terrie King, program chair for Panola College Occupational Therapy Assistant program
And then the pandemic hit. The idea for the park was conceived before the pandemic, but everything was put on pause due to COVID-19.
The about three acre area, which is right across from the college, will be broken down in two phases.
Phase one will include the actual playground equipment and benches. Phase two will have the exercise stations that will surround the park along with an 800-foot fitness trail.
The total price tag for the project? Around $600,000. But that hefty price tag hasn’t put a damper on things. King says so far, they’ve already raised $400,000.
The park and exercise areas will have poured-in-place surfacing, which is important for mobility. The fitness trail surrounding the park will be available for different uses as well.
“You could walk on it, run on it, have a wheelchair, have a walker, but it’s smooth. So, as far as safety goes, it will be very safe for anybody with any ability to walk on,” said King.
Along the pathways will be fitness stops, with different activities to follow.
This park will not just be for the community to enjoy. It will be an “outdoor classroom” space for occupational therapy students in the program at Panola College.
“I want to teach the students how to use the natural environment for therapeutic purposes. This will be an integral part [of their curriculum] year round. We will promote that and implement assignments and aspect within each course throughout the year.”
Back in November of 2019, the city of Tyler opened their first disabilities-inclusive playground, which will be similar to the one in Carthage.
Jessica Pace, the director of Institutional Advancement at Panola College said this is one of the reasons they wanted to do a park like this.
“These parks are popping up all over the country. Other than that [the one in Tyler], you would have to drive to Dallas or Houston.
King says this has been a strong collaboration with the city of Carthage. The park will be cleaned and maintained by city workers.
There is no official ground breaking or opening date, but they hope to have everything completed by the end of this year.
If you are interested in contributing to the park, contact Jessica Pace at email@example.com or Teresa Dennard at Carthage City Hall.