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Peoria Heights Students Plan County's First Fully Accessible Playground For Kids With Disabilities

Together We Play
Advocates for Access
Together We Play Accessible Playground concept art

Students at St. Thomas The Apostle School in Peoria Heights are leading efforts to construct the region's first fully accessible playground for children with disabilities.

"What the kids are trying to bring about is very important," said Adam Duvall, the independent living coordinator for Advocates for Access. "They picked this on their own. They determined that this was a need for our community. Just for them to have that foresight and knowledge is incredible."

Duvall said the "Together We Play" playground would have a universal design. That means adaptations, like ramps leading up to the top of a slide and roll-on merry-go-rounds, would allow kids using mobility devices to play.

Fundraising so far is at $16,000 of the $100,000 needed to build the new playground at Tower Park in Peoria Heights.

Duvall said the playground would allow kids with disabilities to more easily play with their peers and siblings.

"This would ensure that for the first time ever, a pair of siblings could play together in the same park, and it being fully accessible both for the child that uses a mobility device, as well as the child that doesn't," he said.

Advocates for Access estimates more than 10,000 people in the Peoria area live with a disability - but there are no fully accessible parks.

"It's not just for Peoria Heights. We view this as a destination. Someone who's living in Fulton County, or Woodford County, or Tazewell County, they'll know about this," Duvall said. "They'll be able to plan a day where they can visit the shops and restaurants in Peoria Heights, but also, come to Tower Park, Together We Play, and be able to play all day."

The first "Together We Play fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday from 2-4 p.m. at Tower Park. The Star Wars themed event will feature games, food, tower rides, and prizes. A dance party cookout fundraiser is set for July 30 at Heritage Square.

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