BELTON (October 9, 2012)—The Belton City Council approved a plan Tuesday evening for a playground for special needs children next to an existing playground at Chisholm Trail Park.
The vote came after about a year's worth of planning and collaboration between the Lions Club of Belton and its city council.
"Exercise is something most of them don't get a lot of and having a place where they can go that is designed for the wheelchair or the crutch or whatever it is that keeps them from getting out and doing things is a good thing," said Dr. Richard Weaver, Lions Club Playground Project Chairman.
The special needs playground will be the first of its kind in Belton and will include ramps, protective bars and more.
The initial cost of the playground will be about $60,000.
The Lions Club will help raise funds for the first stages of the playground and hope to get other community organizations involved to expand the size of it.
Parents and guardians of special needs children, such as Susan Peters who cares for a 12-year-old with Down syndrome, are excited about the opportunities for their loved ones.
"Sometimes he has difficulty with climbing and motor skills, and he gets frustrated if he's out in a regular playground where maybe he can't master some of his skills," said Peters.
Belton ISD officials see value beyond health and leisure.
"When children are able to play on the playground, which is a natural childhood environment, the students are able to learn about one another and accept one another they learn to accept one another's differences and have a good time," said Jill Ross, Belton ISD Director of Special Programs.
Belton City Council and the Lions Club hope to have the children playing on this special-needs playground in spring of 2013.