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.
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
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