KELSEY ALLEN, MPH, CHES
“To see a child who doesn’t have what their little heart cries out for, that’s what saddens me. There needs to be something for those children. We need to have something to serve those with disabilities in our community,” says City of Laurens Councilwoman Sylvia Douglas.
Councilwoman Douglas first brought up the idea of having inclusive play equipment in the City of Laurens 10 years ago. At that time and until this year, there was no play equipment like this in the City of Laurens. One of the barriers that she was facing in seeing this move forward was cost.
According to Councilwoman Douglas, hospitality tax can often offset the cost of this equipment as it is a draw for parents of children with special needs, who live outside of the city, to bring their children to use the City of Laurens parks. Today, she is thrilled to know that there is a now a swing for children with physical disabilities at Little River Park in Laurens. It is her hope and intention that there will be more to come.
“I think this shows that we are enlightened to this issue and we are looking out for this part of our community,” she says.
Brie Holmes, Chair of the Eat Smart Move More Laurens County, is also excited for this wonderful resource to now be available in Laurens.
“Opportunities for physical activity should not be exclusive to those without physical limitations or special needs. Inclusion and accessibility should be included in every discussion around our built environment, playgrounds especially. Healthy adults start as healthy children, and healthy children get outside and play! Every child deserves that opportunity.”
Creating change in our communities is possible with perseverance and partnership. This would not have been possible without the support of the mayor and city council of Laurens. Additionally, the city administrator, the Laurens County Disabilities and Special Needs Board, and ESMM Laurens County also supported this project. If you feel passionate about seeing these types of changes in your community, be encouraged that change often doesn’t happen quickly, but it is certainly possible.
Thank you, Councilwoman Douglas and the rest of the City of Laurens for this great addition to the parks!