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Davenport residents dream up all-inclusive playground

A Davenport group brainstormed plans for the city’s first universally-accessible playground Monday, and leaders said they hope to break ground next year.

Davenport currently has around 64 city and school playgrounds, none of which are handicap accessible. A group known as “Gabe’s Dream Team” hopes to change that, though, by constructing an all-inclusive playground at Vander Veer Botanical Park.

The idea came when Gloria Cypret saw her grandson, Gabe, being left out of the fun at area playgrounds.

“His favorite thing to do was go to the parks, and there was not a park in Davenport that we could easily access,” said Cypret.

At Monday’s meeting, community members voiced their ideas for the new, universally-accessible playground. Ideas included musical toys, outdoor blocks, wheelchair swings, a race track, balance beams and sensory elements at a variety of levels.

“Think about the ground that is underneath the playground. If it is gravel or mulch, think about taking a wheelchair across that or even an elderly individual who uses a walker. They wouldn’t be able to walk across that surface,” explained Katie Powers, a pediatric physical therapist.

Gabe’s Dream Team hopes to raise $500,000 for the new playground, and says fundraising will likely begin after the new year.

“Out of frustration, it turned into something really positive,” said Cypret.

The suggestions from Monday’s meeting will be sent to Shane’s Inspiration, a non-profit out of California which will create the actual design. The group is hopeful that construction can begin late 2014.


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