Knowing Your Neighbors: A Playground for EveryBODY
PROCTOR, MN – When Jennifer McDonald brought her three year old daughter Emma to local playgrounds several years ago, she was frustrated her daughter with spina bifida couldn’t access everything the playgrounds had to offer. Wood chips, pea rocks and gravel made it difficult to navigate.
These frustrating experiences as a mother would lead Jennifer on a journey spanning over a decade to bring a playground to the community for every body.
“When we did our research, we reached out to area school districts to find out how many kids really need play equipment like this. And we found that in our area in northeastern Minnesota here, there are 3,000 children with either physical impairments, emotional disabilities, other barriers to being able to play and we really, really wanted to make sure that we were finding ways for all children to play,” said Jennifer McDonald.
The Playground for everyBODY comes with a $400,000 price tag. Funding for the project started out with fundraisers and private donations, but what really expedited the project was when they received a $200,000 Minnesota Outdoor Recreation grant back in 2020. Covid and supply chain issues pushed construction to this year where efforts have ramped up in the last month. The playground surface is a walkable rubber that provides fall protection for the kids while the equipment itself has words written in braille as well as wheelchair accessibility to the very top of the playground.
“We’ve needed this playground for so long. This project started when Emma was just 3 years old and she’s 15 now. I wish I could have built it overnight, so that she would have had the opportunity to play. I guess what it’s shown me is that I’ve had to see the world through her eyes a little bit better. I hope that we become a destination for families who need a place for their kids to play because there’s nothing like it. There really isn’t,” said McDonald.
Dozens of volunteers have helped over the last few weekends in hopes to get it completed in time for kids to enjoy before the snow comes. Right now there are just a few odds and ends to finalize before the project is complete the first part of October.
You can check out Proctor’s Playground for EveryBODY Facebook page for updates over the next few days to see when it is completed and when they will have their Grand Opening.