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City of Knoxville, Tennessee
Madeline Rogero, Mayor

For Immediate Release
Construction slated to begin for Knoxville's first Universally accessible playground
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Disability Resource Center
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02/21/05 -Groundbreaking for playground scheduled Tuesday
February 22, 2005 - Construction slated to begin for Knoxville's first Universally accessible playground

Mayor Bill Haslam hosted a celebration Tuesday, Feb. 22 to mark the beginning of construction for the Ashley Nicole Dream Playground, the City of Knoxville's first universally accessible playground.

The play area at Caswell Park is designed to be a place where children with and without disabilities will enjoy playing together.

The need for the playground was born from the disappointment of Ashley Nicole Manes, who was 4 when a 1999 accident left her paralyzed from the neck down and dependent on a heavy, powered wheelchair to move. Her mother, Tiffany Manes, took Ashley and her younger sister to a playground after the accident, but when Allison ran to the swings, Ashley was unable to follow.

Ashley Nicole and her family accept a check from Mayor Bill HaslamFamily and friends, working with the Disability Resource Center, initiated the drive for the project, soliciting the support of the City of Knoxville, creating its design and raising some $90,000 in private donations.

Mayor Haslam, on behalf of the City of Knoxville, presented a check for $100,000 to Ashley and her family. The playground is located in the City's Caswell Park.

"This playground will be a unique recreational environment where parents and children of all abilities can play and learn together," Mayor Haslam said. "I'm pleased that the City partnered with this energetic and committed group of volunteers to create this worthwhile project."

Don Barksdale, fundraising chairman for the project, said, "This has been a seamless public/private partnership. We appreciate the City's encouragement and assistance in making our dream a reality."

The three major play structures, which include a fort, a ship, and playhouse, have already been delivered and are stored on City property.

As soon as the weather allows, an 8,380-square-foot concrete slab will be poured that will underlie the rubberized surface. Then, organizers will enlist the help of the volunteers to install the equipment.

The playground's creators want to add swings, a raceway area, and shading structures in future phases.

Financial assistance, in-kind donations, and volunteers are still needed.

Donations of any amount may be mailed to:
Ashley Nicole's Dream Playground
Disability Resource Center
900 E. Hill Ave., Suite 120
Knoxville, Tenn. 37915

For more information on how to help, please see the organization's web site at www.dreamplayground.org
For Immediate Release
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