Project Sandbox example of people improving their community

Submitted
Posted 6/30/21

If the weather cooperates, a new playground will be in use in Daphne before the end of the summer.

Playgrounds and parks are not new in Baldwin County, but this one, like its intended users, is …

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Project Sandbox example of people improving their community

Posted
If the weather cooperates, a new playground will be in use in Daphne before the end of the summer. Playgrounds and parks are not new in Baldwin County, but this one, like its intended users, is special. The Project Sandbox inclusive playground is designed to be used by children, and adults, with disabilities as well as those without challenges. Most playgrounds conform to the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act as far as access. The facilities themselves might not be set up for someone who can’t climb or move as well as others. People can access the playground, but can they use it? The Project Sandbox playground is different. The equipment and layout are designed to accommodate those with physical and mental challenges. Everyone should have an opportunity to go outside and take part in physical activities with others. At a dedication ceremony for the park on June 21, several challenged people were among the participants. When told that the playground would be open within two months, one asked why it could not be ready sooner. The park is special in another way. The effort to build this facility has been going on for four years. This was not something created and designed by a government committee. This was not a gift from a wealthy, well-meaning philanthropist. This was a community effort that overcame its own challenges. A group of people on the Eastern Shore realized the need for the park. These people included members of the Daphne-Spanish Fort Kiwanis Club, Daphne city officials and the Exceptional Foundation – an organization set up to help challenged adults in the area. They saw that their community had a need. They decided to meet it. The first estimate was that a small park might cost $60,000. Supporters saw that was not enough to meet the need. They set a more ambitious goal -- $350,000. The city joined in and helped with funding and provided a site, but it was a community effort that carried the project through. Supporters announced a fundraising campaign to complete the park. That announcement was made in November 2019, just before the start of the pandemic. Despite the economic setbacks, closing of businesses and other challenges, they continued working to continue Project Sandbox. Their goal was to raise $50,000. They raised $53,000. When the park opens later this year, many who play on it will be thrilled to have a facility that meets their needs. This park, however, is more than slides and swings for one group of people. It is an example of the community spirit of people who see that something should be done. Rather than wait for some agency or group to do it, they set out to take care of it themselves, not for their own benefit, but for others in need. Daphne, the Eastern Shore and Baldwin County are better off because of the dreams, work and determination of its citizens. And that is very special.