When Jenny Morgan wanted an all-accessible playground in her rural, close-knit community of Warfordsburg, PA, she turned to General Recreation Inc. out of Newtown Square.
A Google search for inclusive play equipment led Jenny to General Recreation and Landscape Structures playground consultant Steve Hemler.
Steve developed a design where children with special needs could play safely alongside family and friends, with a mixture of all-accessible play equipment from Landscape Structures and Rhapsody Outdoor Musical Instruments.
Steve enjoyed working with Jenny, “who was inspiring.”
“She created a milestone playground design destination playground that would impress any size community! Jenny leads by heart and I have the utmost respect for her vision. She’s truly capable of achieving milestones.”
Jenny embraced the credo, “Playing to learn as you learn to play” when she embarked on her multi-year mission to bring the playground to life.
“I thought about the needs I saw in our rural area – and started with my own experience,” explains Jenny. “Our schools are far apart and have small populations. At our playgrounds, I observed how students played and began to notice children with disabilities that couldn’t even access the equipment. This saddened me. While other kids were easily playing with each other, others were on the sidelines.”
Jenny is a school-based occupational therapist who works with children who have developmental disabilities.
Rotating through schools in her district. Jenny helps students develop self-help and play skills.
Her playground idea came about in 2015 while taking a grant-writing class. One of her assignments was to envision a community-based program or project she would want to pursue.
She realized there was no universal play equipment and her playground project was decided.
Jenny found a potential location on land owned by the local Lions Club. In 2017, her husband, Rich, helped her create a non-profit entity, Milestones Wellness Outreach, so she could apply for grants.
Her application to the PA Department of Community & Economic Development included nearly 40 handwritten letters and drawings from children supporting the project.
“We know that these letters touched the grant reviewers’ hearts…because they touched ours,” says Jenny.
Kids wrote about why they wanted a playground and what they envisioned for it.
Through a variety of grants, word-of-mouth (and even unsolicited!) donations, along with progress shared through a very active Facebook page, the playground came to life.
The effort, generosity and prayers of an entire community came to fruition Nov. 6, 2021, with the playground’s ribbon cutting.
The playground is dedicated to people who found strength and perseverance in the midst of great obstacles.
“We want this playground to reflect the face of our community,” explains Jenny.
Unique touches include memory plaques on benches for loved ones.
The walkway to the entrance of the playground has bricks engraved with the name of each child who wrote a support letter, along with a special trait or quality about them.
The playground has stayed busy since opening in November 2021. It fills a variety of needs, including being a regional community playground open throughout the week for all families.
The location is convenient to a tri-state interstate junction, making it easy for traveling families to visit.
“On opening day, I remember sitting on a bench, observing children of all abilities playing on the playground. It was surreal. I felt joy and relief,” recalls Jenny.
She hopes her playground story inspires others to take action, that anyone can do this, even those in a rural area with limited resources.
To learn more about creating an all-accessible playground for your community, contact your local General Recreation Playground Consultant at 800-726-4793 or email@example.com.
About General Recreation
Since 1973, General Recreation Inc. has been a leading distributor of commercial playground equipment. They serve Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, and have helped hundreds of community leaders and organizations build playgrounds that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and made to last.
General Recreation projects are supported by expert and trusted services, including site evaluation, playground design, installation and community build services.
Whether your playground will consist of an outdoor playground at a pre-school or a large community playground, experienced commercial playground experts will help you every step of the way.
Here’s a video to introduce you to General Recreation Inc. and see what they offer.