In many communities across the country, local governments are slashing their budgets for parks and recreation projects. This is happening despite evidence showing how the long term health and economic impact of these investments outweighs the temporary cost savings incurred from reduced spending on playgrounds, recreational programming, and park maintenance.
However, in the Playful City USA community of Fall River, Massachusetts, Mayor William Flanagan understands the importance that play has for the community, and has shown his commitment by championing several bond measures to increase funding for park projects. With the majority support of Fall River’s city council, in late 2012, the city passed a measure to generate $500,000 for the revitalization of Highland Park and $375,000 to construct an inclusive playground at Kennedy Park.
The impetus to construct Fall River’s first handicap accessible playground came after Saint Anne’s Neighborhood Association began hosting events and clean-ups in Kennedy Park through the city’s adopt-a-park program. After adopting the park, Association President, Pamela Laliberte, says it became obvious that the park’s dilapidated playground would need to be replaced and the group quickly mobilized to conduct a fundraising campaign. For Laliberte, whose daughter has a disability, making sure that a new playground would serve all children became an important catalyst for their efforts.