Fundraising continues for Gabe’s Play Village, an “All-Inclusive” playground for Vander Veer Botanical Park, with features and access for all children ages 0-5. An all-inclusive playground, organizer Gloria Cypret of Davenport said, is a “step above” compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.
The goal is raise $500,000 for the initiative, said Cypret, whose grandson Gabe, 12, came to live with her. “One of his favorite things, because he is wheelchair-bound, is to go the parks.”
But Cypret found that many parks with playground equipment are inaccessible for children with disabilities.
So, she began her research on all-inclusive parks. That led her to address the City of Davenport about the need for such a park. And she also gathered interested people to form Gabe’s Dream Team to spearhead the project.
The city of Davenport is working with Shane’s Inspiration, an organization that designs all-inclusive playgrounds.
“This impacts all children of all abilities, and their families,” Cypret said. The new park will encourage acceptance of differently-abled children and will “allow kids to be kids” regardless of their abilities, she said.
Cypret hopes that groundbreaking will begin in the spring of 2016. Meanwhile, Gabe’s Dream Team is applying for grants.
The project already has support from individuals and the City of Davenport, which will provide $80,000 that was budgeted to replace playground equipment in Vander Veer Park. Additionally, Scott County Regional Authority will provide a grant of $45,000.
Cypret and the rest of the Dream Team continue to consider fundraising events such as a trivia night and a fun run, and they plan to establish an online donation site.
Through the Quad-Cities River Bandits Community All-Star Program, which honors individuals who are role models in the Quad-City area, Gabe has been invited to throw the first pitch at the June 13 Bandits game, Cypret said. Crowds sometimes scare her grandson, Cypret said, “But we’ll try.”
By Linda Cook