Construction for the Ames Miracle Playground and Field is underway to help cater to the needs of over 500 children with disabilities in the Ames community.
The Ames Foundation hosted a groundbreaking for the Miracle League Field 10 a.m. Saturday at Inis Grove Park at 24th and Duff.
The event began with speaker Sheila Lundt, former city assistant manager and current board member for the Ames Foundation as well as participated with the project since the beginning.
Lundt said she was relieved when the construction for the Miracle Playground became a reality.
“I’m so happy for the people who are going to be able to take advantage of this when it’s done. I’m just so happy for them,” Lundt said.
After the presentation, the donors and visitors with special needs gathered their shovels and hard hats to break the ground and the begin the construction process.
The estimated $2 million project will cater to the 3,500 children between ages five and 15 who have special needs in the Polk, Boone, Dallas and Story counties. The project is scheduled to finish in the spring 2020, replacing a playground that was torn down at Inis Grove.
The Miracle Playground and Field had donors from major companies and figures such as Harrison Barnes Foundation and Fareway Foods, as well as donations from community members selling bracelets.
Reynolds Cramer, the president and CEO of Fareway grocery stores, donated $50,000 towards the park and shared his struggles with finding a space that is safe for children with intellectual and physical disabilities.
“I have a daughter, Ashley, who is autistic,” Cramer said. “Myself and the entire family understands what it’s like to help a child with special needs and having this type of park, having a safe place for the child to come and having parents or grandparents to come, is just incredible because there are very few [Miracle Playgrounds] around the state.”
Ames community members have expressed the need for the Ames Miracle Playground and many of the visitors have expressed a combination of relief and excitement for the construction.
Natalie Wolter and Sophia Hammes, high school students, have been selling bracelets since last year and have raised over $600 to donate to the project.
“I was so excited and kind of relieved that we were finally able to make it as a community,” Wotler said.
Hammes and Wolter said they were initially nervous about the community’s reaction to the playground and those who would come to the groundbreaking event.
“We [thought] at first 'Oh, I hope this isn’t just big corporate people who are coming’ and no, people from our neighborhood came and kids that I babysit came,” Hammes said. “People who have just connections — family members or friends who would benefit from [the playground] even if they’re not kids, just knowing that this is here is important to them, it gives them kind of a voice.”
The Miracle Playground will cater to children with physical, cognitive and sensory disabilities with specialized equipment. The field will be accessible to wheelchairs as well as other assistive devices, such as crutches or braces, and will be made of cushion and rubberized turf to include options for competitive and noncompetitive athletic events for children and adults with disabilities.
“I think it’s for everyone — people who don’t have disabilities, who have disabilities — everyone as a community can come here,” Wolter said. “Our bracelets say ‘every child deserves a place to play’ and I stand by that and I think it’s really important that it’s an inclusive place and everyone can have fun.”