Friends of Special Children raises funds to improve inclusive playground at Signal Centers


The nonprofit Friends of Special Children is raising funds to make improvements to Signal Centers’ therapeutic playground for the arts, which was the first of its kind in the country when it was built with funds raised by the friends 12 years ago, said the group’s chairman. , Lynn Reese.

The Playground serves as a benchmark study for NatureGrounds, a partnership between PlayCore and the North Carolina State College of Design’s natural learning initiative to develop best practice guidelines for design that integrates nature into people’s lives. children, according to the PlayCore website.

Designed for children of all skill levels, the playground features natural landscaping elements, inclusive play structures, a bike path, amphitheater, indoor pavilion, music and arts space, outdoor sound system and a dug slide.

The play area has two parts: the main area for children from 3 to 5 years old and the music and art area for children up to 3 years old. Upgrades will include a new cast-in-place rubber floor area for the entire main playground, three large shade canopies, musical instruments, several landscape features, and new swings.

Photo gallery

Signage center play area

Signal Centers serves about 140 children, of whom about 40 to 50% have disabilities, said Signal Centers CEO Donna McConnico.

“We want to make sure every kid has access to great play experiences because that’s how kids learn,” said McConnico. “We want to make sure it’s safe and engages their minds and bodies as well.”

The estimated cost of the upgrades is $ 175,000, which the group of friends hope to raise through its 16th annual ABC event and silent auction.

Hosted by 2021 Presidents Mike and Judy St. Charles, the event will take place on September 30 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in a large tent outside the Signal Centers. It includes dinner, an open bar, a live auction, and opportunities to win prizes and socialize without having to participate in a program, Reese said.

“We are a 501[c][3] non-profit organization, and we are all volunteers, so our goal is to send every penny we can to signage centers, ”Reese said. “We don’t really have operating funds, and it’s a little different from some organizations. “

Tickets cost $ 50 each at friends of special Advance auctions for the silent auction run from September 23 to 29 on Items to be won include everything from weekend vacation rentals and bottles of liquor to a kid’s Lamborghini.

Contact Emily Crisman at [email protected] or 423-757-6508.

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