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The City of Roswell Parks and Recreation Department has partnered with the New Mexico Autism Society to work toward creating an “all-inclusive” playground that can be enjoyed by children with disabilities, as well as those without. Horizons Park is the vision that can become a reality with the help of the citizens, businesses and community organizations of Roswell.
The idea for such a playground in Roswell was launched by local New Mexico Autism Society representative Krista Smith after she read about all-inclusive playgrounds featuring specially-designed equipment and play and learning areas that accommodate children with various disabilities. The city and the Autism Society have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with terms that call for the Society to purchase the appropriate equipment and donate it to the city, which has agreed to install the donated equipment on the planned Horizons Park site. The site is within the city’s Cahoon Park. The new playground location is to be created between the tennis courts and Union Avenue.
Individuals, businesses and organizations can participate in this playground’s creation by contributing funding for the equipment purchases. The Autism Society is the entity doing the fundraising, which can include private donations and sponsorships. The Society is also researching the possibility of obtaining grant funding.
While the Parks and Recreation Department has been working to make new playgrounds it installs accommodating to all children, with or without disabilities, the number of city playgrounds with any significant amount of specialized equipment for those with disabilities remains very limited. Horizons Park will make a big difference in the park options for children facing unique challenges.
The Autism Society’s vision for Horizons Park includes things like a sensory garden, music area, spray pad, roller slide, swings, fossil dig, spaceship sway glider and safety surfacing throughout the playground. It may also have an area set aside for teachers and educators to work with students with disabilities.
With the Parks and Recreation Department and the Autism Society committed to work together to benefit the children of the Roswell community, the hard work now begins with the Autism Society’s fundraising. Information about the Horizons Park project is found online at the Autism Society’s website (nmautismsociety.org) under the “Get Involved” link. Donations can also be made on that page (http://nmautismsociety.org/support/roswell-horizon-park/).
The Autism Society is also maintaining a Horizons Park Facebook page where updates on the project will be found. In addition, anyone with questions can contact the Society’s Krista Smith at kristasmith@ nmautismsociety.org or (575) 840-4626.