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Tampa leaders break ground on new, inclusive playground

The 10,000 square-foot space is designed to be Tampa's first 'disability and sensory-friendly playground' fully-funded by the city.

TAMPA, Fla — A new park being built in Tampa aims to provide fun for kids of all ages and abilities. 

Tampa Parks and Recreation broke ground Monday for the New Tampa All Abilities Playground, the city's first "disability and sensory-friendly playground" fully funded by the city.

City leaders say the playground will be more than 10,000 square feet and is designed for children with a "wide range of physical, cognitive, sensory and socio-emotional abilities." 

The playground will also be fitted with multiple play pieces that are wheelchair accessible.

"The plans for this playground help ensure that there is something for everyone," Sherisha Hills, director of Tampa Parks & Recreation, said in a statement. "We wanted to create an inclusive space to play where kids can enjoy a fun and interactive playground experience."

City leaders say the playground will also have a sensory area geared toward kids who have autism or "other cognitive challenges." 

"As a sibling to a man with intellectual disabilities, I know how important parks like this are," Councilman Luis Viera said in a statement. "Parks like this are more than brick or pavement. They represent inclusion, understanding and empathy with people like my mother and late father, who raise and care for persons with special needs. This park, the first of its kind here in Tampa fully funded by our City, is a gesture of solidarity to every family out there raising a child with special needs. It is about the City of Tampa taking 20 steps forward so that these families can leap forward 20,000 steps."

In addition to the play pieces, the playground will have custom shading structures that will give "more comfort" to kids and their families, the city said.

A rubber play surface will also be in place to add extra safety for kids if they fall down, according to the city.

“This playground will be a new stomping ground for kids of all abilities in our community," Mayor Jane Castor said in a statement. "It will be a place where kids can just be kids and where everyone is included. I’m so proud of the Parks and Recreation team for continuing to build upon an inclusive parks system that can serve as an example for other departments nationwide.”

The city says a new art mural based on a "Fantastic Florida Nature" theme will also be made at the new playground.

You can watch the full groundbreaking ceremony here:

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