SPENCERVILLE — The first-ever collaborative fundraising effort involving two organizations — one a government entity, the other a non-profit agency — that serve overlapping clientele bases has proven to be an overwhelming success.
The beneficiaries of that joint effort? Families in Allen County who have one or more members with developmental disabilities.
The Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities, in conjunction with the ARC of Allen County, is two-thirds of the way to reaching their combined goal of raising $1.2 million to build two all-ability playgrounds in Allen County.
Construction has started on the first playground at Camp Robin Rogers at 1090 S. Conant Road, near Spencerville, and is expected to be complete in time for this year’s annual Day Camp later this month.
The playground at the camp, operated by ARC, will include wheelchair-accessible equipment, safe surfacing, shade awnings for sun protection and other recreational equipment for all ages.
According to Brad Perrott, executive director of ARC of Allen County, the nearest similar facility is more than 40 miles away.
“This, to me, is going to be huge,” Perrott said of the new playground. “Families with three typical children and one child in a wheelchair, for example, will all be able to participate as a family.”
Perrott said the idea for an enhanced playground at Camp Robin Rogers that would allow persons with disabilities to enjoy increased outdoor activities began some six years ago. Kiwanis Club chapters in Lima and surrounding communities agreed to help with fundraising that the project was off and running.
It was agreed that a second playground at playground will be constructed at Marimor School in Lima once the fundraising goal is reached. Theresa Schnipke, superintendent of the DD board and Marimor, said fundraising efforts will determine when the school’s playground update will be completed, but she hopes to see the equipment in place in 2021.
Once ARC and the DD board passed the halfway point of their fundraising goal, equipment was ordered for the Robin Rogers site.
“I willingly agreed that the camp should go first” in constructing its new playground, Schnipke said. “Their equipment was more in need of upgrading and with summer camp coming up it just made sense.”
Perrott said equipment started arriving at the camp two weeks ago. Organizers initially had hoped to have the equipment assembled by volunteer labor, but the COVID-19 pandemic and social-distancing mandates that accompanied the virus quashed those plans. A firm was hired to do the labor.
The annual summer day camp begins June 22 and runs through July 23. While the number of camp participants has been limited this year, due to the novel coronavirus, Perrott hopes the new playground will be installed before the camp is concluded.
Schnipke thanked the area Lions Club and Kiwanis Club chapters for their financial support, along with other corporate donors who are making the agencies’ dreams a reality.
“It’s been a great partnership,” she said.
Donations to the projects may be made online at www.allabilityplayground.org.