CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT The ribbon is cut at City Park to celebrate the improvements made to the park. The improvements include all inclusive equipment and a sprucing up of the existing equipment.
HOPEWELL — When Justin Duvall, 28, slid down a slide at a playground for the first time, his mother Sharon Ledford, of Prince George, saw his joy and wanted to make sure other children in Hopewell could have that same experience.
As the chair of the playground committee for the Hopewell-Prince George Civitan Club, she began a partnership with the Hopewell Recreation and Parks Department on City Park.
On Tuesday afternoon, the ribbon was cut on the all-inclusive playground at the park, so people like Justin can play with everyone and not have limits on fun.
After more than 15 years, City Point playground in Hopewell now has new equipment and is the first park in the city to become all-inclusive.
When the Civitan Club of Hopewell-Prince George approached Jo Turek, director of Recreation and Parks, over a year ago to begin work on the playground, all involved began immediately to secure funding.
Through grants from kaBOOM, a Dr. Pepper Snapple Group nonprofit, city-allocated funds and a grant awarded to the Civitan Club, work was completed on the park, totaling $65,000.
“The neat thing about the structure is it’s inclusive for everybody and it’s not only children,” Turek said standing in front of the new equipment. “But if parents or grandparents want to come up and participate, especially if they too may be in a wheelchair or a walker, it makes it a little bit easier for everybody. ... It’s something that is very worthwhile for the community and we’re very proud to have it here for the folks of Hopewell.”
Improvements not only included the new equipment but a sprucing up of the existing equipment and the revitalization of the basketball court. At the ribbon cutting on Tuesday, Turek, along with the city of Hopewell, was presented with a check for $20,000 from The Arc South of the James, a nonprofit that works with families with disabilities.
“This is just the kind of thing we support and we work for,” said Anita Dommert, The Arc South of the James president. “... We definitely appreciate the partnership we have and also the opportunity to be here today to see this inclusive park and look forward to more.”
After the check presentation, Turek announced the recently donated funds will be used for completion of the project, which includes a rehabilitation of the tennis courts.
Councilor Christina Luman Bailey echoed the need for the tennis courts. She said the nets “need to be back up.” Bailey also recalled the memories she and her children have formed over the years at the park.
“We’ve been coming to this playground for quite some time. ... We’re just really happy to see this happening,” Bailey said.
Morris Hudgins, area 2 director for the Chesapeake District of Civitan International, said more parks in and around the area need to be inclusive, thereby allowing more families to create even more memories at the park.
“We’re looking for a long-term relationship because there are more playgrounds that need to be inclusive,” Hudgins said.
Ledford is already looking for ways to make more parks in the area inclusive for children of all ages.
“We’re going to do more fundraisers and we’re going to do a really big park,” she said. “We’re going to put it either in Prince George or Hopewell.”