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One step closer: Inclusive playground taking shape

Shannon Hagness and daughters Abby, 10 (left) and Lily, 8, examine the Sway Fun at the inclusive playground construction site at Woodridge Park in Cottage Grove. The Sway Fun is a wheelchair accessible glider that will allow special needs kids to ride it. Hagness, a member of the inclusive playground task force, pitched in with the Cottage Grove Lions Club to help assemble rides, swing sets and a climbing wall during a July 29 community build. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia.

Members of the Cottage Grove Lions Club pitched in July 29 to help build the Woodridge Park Inclusive Playground.

Alene Colvin, a member of the inclusive playground task force, said they built a climbing wall and painted a tunnel. The playground will include a zip line, swings, a sensory garden and oversize musical instruments.

Children who become stressed by the crowds or noise, such as those with autism, can take a break from the bustle by ducking inside a cozy dome, a plastic sphere that functions as a sort of tortoise shell.

"Some kids when they have autism, get overwhelmed," Colvin said. "They need a break. Those cozy domes are a good hidey-hole."

A giant teeter totter called a Sway Fun is designed to be wheelchair accessible. Kids can roll their rigs up a ramp and enjoy the ride.

Task force member Shannon Hagness brought her daughters Abby, 10 and Lily, 8.

"I think it's going to be a good playground," Lily said. "I like that it includes special needs people so they can play."

When it opens at the end of September, the $800,000 facility will be the largest inclusive playground in Minnesota.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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