UMass To Participate In Fundraiser For Belchertown Accessible Playground
May 21, 2014
Members of the Massachusetts men's basketball program will conduct a clinic at Belchertown High School on June 16 as part of the effort to raise money for Jessica's Boundless Playground.
The event cost is $40 and all proceeds from the entry fee will go toward the project.
The group also will receive a $5,000 challenge grant from an anonymous donor if at least 500 individuals or businesses each donate $100 or more by June 30. Organizers hope the Be One Challenge, as they are calling it, will double the minimum that would be raised if successful, bringing the total to $105,000. She also has three foundation applications pending. "You apply in December and then you wait until June," she said.
Among the sensory elements on the playground will be a color splash panel, an imagination table panel and a sensory wall. Andrew Berger, a consultant with O'Brien & Sons Inc., the Medfield company that Team Jessica hired to help coordinate the project, said those elements are designed to engage autistic children. They are produced by Landscape Structures Inc. in Delano, Minnesota.
Here's the article that appeared in the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Tuesday.
By ERIC GOLDSCHEIDER Gazette Contributing Writer
BELCHERTOWN -- After nearly four years of fundraising events ranging from motorcycle rides to wine tastings as well as large infusions of cash from the town's Community Preservation Act, the final push is on to raise money for Jessica's Boundless Playground.
The nearly $500,000 price tag, which does not include donated labor, is as eye-popping as the commitment volunteers have made to ensure that every aspect of the recreational area set to be constructed on town land near the Chestnut Hill Community School is fully accessible to children and adults of all abilities.
It is being built in memory of Jessica Martins, who was born with Rett syndrome, a degenerative neurological disease. She died in 2009 at the age of 19.
The philosophy behind boundless playgrounds is that no children should have to sit and watch others play because they cannot get onto the structures. They are also meant to allow adults with disabilities to play with their children.
The goal is to raise the final $200,000 between now and the end of August, according to Patti Thornton, a professional fundraiser for Smith College who took this project on as a volunteer. That's when Team Jessica, the committee leading the effort, plans to order equipment from a Minnesota company specializing in playgrounds. A community construction day is scheduled for Sept. 13. A week later, if all goes according to plan, a rubber surface will be poured to cover the entire area.
"I believe in this project with all my heart, it is near and dear to me," said Thornton, who has been a friend for 30 years of Vicky Martins Auffrey, Jessica's mother and president of the Team Jessica committee.
The annual Town Meeting this year approved a third Community Preservation Act grant to the project, bringing the total amount taxpayers are chipping in to $140,000.
The main structure will have two wide ramps leading to an elevated platform that wends its way along the play stations, giving those in wheelchairs access to them. The playground will also have sensory panels for children to explore based on texture and sounds.
Read the complete story here...
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