New Park Will Bring Smiles to Monroe-West Monroe

Smiles Park is a playground that all kids can enjoy.

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A 3D Diagram of the new park.

West Monroe Civitan Club is bringing an inclusive playground for kids with and without disabilities to play together. This ¾ acre playground will be located inside Kiroli Park. This project was announced in 2013. An opening date has yet to be set, but it is likely to open within a few months.

The theme of the playground is a fair, inspired by the Civitan Club’s annual fundraiser the Ark-La-Miss Fair. This will include a pretend Ferris wheel, animals constructed of fiberglass and concrete, a 5-12 year old play area, a 2-5 year old play area, a 6-24 month old play area and a “ZipKrooz.” (If you’re wondering what a ZipKrooz is, click here. It’s awesome.)  All of the play equipment was manufactured by Landscape Structures Inc. out of Minnesota.

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A concept plan for the park.

 

Even though the opening date is still being determined, pieces of the park have already started to arrive. On Tuesday, January 3, equipment rolled in on 4 semi-trucks. The delivery included four life-like sensory animals— Betty the Elephant, Xavier the Seal, Zeus the Lion, and Gummie the Bear.

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Betty the Elephant poses with Matt West, Chairman of the Smiles Park Committee.

 

Designs for the playground were created by Shane’s Inspiration, an organization whose mission is to create inclusive playgrounds for children all over the world. In 2000, they opened their first park “Shane’s Inspiration Playground” in Los Angeles, California. Now, they have assisted in the creation of 63 inclusive playgrounds with another 75 being developed. “Our vision is to foster a bias-free world for children with disabilities. Our mission is to create inclusive playgrounds and programs to unite children of all abilities,” they say on their website.

The Civitan Smiles Park can bring that vision to West Monroe.

In a video shared to Facebook, Ella Ecker, a seven-year-old girl, reacts joyfully to the news that the park equipment was delivered. She is a child with spinal muscular atrophy, which causes her to be bound to a wheelchair. This park will allow her to play alongside her friends and family. The happiness seen on her face and in her tears makes you wish the park already existed. Be prepared to cry some tears of your own.

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For more information on this project or to learn how to get involved, visit the West Monroe Civitan’s Club website. Keep an eye out on their Facebook page, Civitan Smiles Park, for updates on progress and an official opening date.

 

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