Kennesaw’s new inclusive playground opens to the public

One-year-old Eric Barrera enjoyed sliding onto the new turf ground covering at Kennesaw inclusive playground.One-year-old Eric Barrera enjoyed sliding onto the new turf ground covering. (photo by Rebecca Gaunt)

Based on the enthusiastic response Thursday from the dozens of kids who attended the ribbon-cutting for the new inclusive playground in Kennesaw, it’s a hit.

The playground is the result of a conversation that happened between Kennesaw resident Ann Pratt and Councilman Pat Ferris more than two years ago. Pratt began to research playground equipment for children with special needs, and the project was enthusiastically embraced by the council. Construction started in September, but what was supposed to be a December grand opening was delayed by rainy weather. The project was a passion for Pratt who delivered regular updates to the council, leading Mayor Derek Easterling to joke at Monday’s council meeting that some of the construction workers referred to her as the supervisor.

Azalea Pardo, 6, practiced her climbing skills.
Azalea Pardo, 6, practiced her climbing skills. (photo by Rebecca Gaunt)

After the blue ribbon fluttered to the ground, it was pandemonium as the kids, some with parents struggling to keep up, charged through the gate.

Mayor Derek Easterling joined the kids on the playground after the ceremony. (photo by Rebecca Gaunt)

The playground, which is meant to bring together kids with and without special needs, is located in Swift-Cantrell Park and flows seamlessly into the 13,500 square foot playground already in place, a detail that Councilman David Blinkhorn said was important in the planning. The additions add 5,000 more square feet of play space but with wheelchair accessible ramps, eight-person wheelchair sway fun, sensory stations, slide and a shade canopy. Bathroom facilities are also right next to the new play area. The wood chips were removed and the entire playground now sits on turf, which makes it safer to maneuver.

The playground cost about $450,000 and was paid for by the 2016 Special Local Options Sales Tax (SPLOST).

(L-r) Councilman Jim “Doc” Eaton, Acworth Alderman Tim Houston, Councilman Chris Henderson, Parks Director Steve Roberts, Mayor Derek Easterling, Councilwoman Tracey Viars, Councilman Pat Ferris, and Councilman David Blinkhorn prepare to open the playground to an eager crowd. (photo by Rebecca Gaunt)