Fundraiser for project is Nov. 17
By Samantha Joseph
STUART - The Kiwanis Club of Stuart is planning the city's first playground designed to accommodate children with special needs.
The civic group said its goal was to create a spot that would allow the area's disabled children to play freely alongside their peers.
The playground is a joint venture with the city of Stuart, and will be the latest addition to Kiwanis Park in downtown Stuart.
The club has designed a "boundless playground" with ramps for wheelchair-bound visitors and to allow those with limited mobility to access games. Plans also include the addition of a rubberized surface, slides and swings designed for handicap access, noisemakers for music, an easy-access crow's nest and a rocking boat that simulates swing-set movements.
"One of the important things to know about a boundless playground is that anyone can come and play on it," said Suzanne Hutcheson, president of the Kiwanis Club of Stuart.
"Once this is built, children with disabilities and those without will be able to play in the same place, and as a result, they'll have a chance to interact with each other, instead of constantly being separated. Our hope is that this will lead to more integration, greater understanding and a more solid community as we move forward."
Early estimates place the cost of the project at about $150,000 to $175,000.
To help cover costs, the Kiwanis Club has planned a fundraiser for next month.
Event chairwoman and former club president, Barbara Essenwine, said residents from across the region have been inquiring about fundraising. She said supporters are enthusiastic about helping to create the park with the club that has been in Martin County since 1938, helping to build several landmarks and supporting leadership programs in area schools.
The park fundraiser, the Liberty Coach/Kiwanis Club of Stuart challenge is a sporting clay shoot set for Nov. 17 in Palm City.
The event will take place from noon to 7 p.m. at the South Florida Shooting Club, located at 500 S.W. Long Drive.
The private club sits on 600 acres of rural land in western Martin County. It offers 14 overlooks and 40 shooting stations with a variety of stands and towers over three courses.
The event will include a luncheon, silent auction and raffle of a red Polaris Ranger XP 800 limited edition, which is an all-terrain vehicle valued at about $15,000.
Attendees can remain for dinner and a cocktail reception with a sunset exhibition shoot by a nationally ranked athlete.
Tickets cost $200 per shooter for the entire day's activities, or $50 per person for the dinner and exhibition shoot.
Raffle tickets cost $100 each, and organizers plan to sell 250.
Attendees can purchase raffle tickets and event reservations from Kiwanis Club members or at GCY Professional Surveyors & Mappers, located at 1505 S.W. Martin Highway, Palm City.
For more information, call Ms. Essenwine at (772) 286-8083 or visit www.kiwanisclubofstuart.org.