New Sensory Friendly Park in the Works in South Williamsport

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SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY(WBRE/WYOU-TV) – A local non-profit organization in Lycoming County is on a mission to spread awareness on children with special needs.

One of the ways they’re doing that is by adding a new play space for the local community.

The official first day of summer is in a few short days, which means kids of all ages will be out and about and for many, that includes playing at the local park.

But the South Williamsport Park Complex doesn’t cater to everyone especially kids with special needs.

“There’s nothing we have in the area for this and the children when you see them playing on the playgrounds they’re not really included and there’s not really equipment for them to desensitize,”
 said Secretary with ‘Growing Awareness’, Katherine Spagnuolo.

Which is why the construction of a new sensory-friendly park is on the way.

“We are so excited to get this up and running and create awareness and a safe space for kids with diverse needs,” said President with ‘Growing Awareness’, Kristin Lambert.

Lambert is the president of the nonprofit organization, growing awareness.

She tells Eyewitness News she came up with the idea while working as an autistic support teacher at Central Elementary School.

“We work with these children on a daily basis and we can see when we take them to the park or they’re on the playground at school they don’t access the equipment that’s already there so we wanted to create a space where they can be comfortable and it meets their needs,” said Lambert.

“There are just so many kids that want to participate but don’t know how or they are in a wheelchair and they can’t access playgrounds with mulch because their wheels get stuck,” said Hilarie Ayers, Social Media Coordinator with ‘Growing Awareness’.

Some of the amenities will include accessible swings, balance boards, spin cups and “cozy cocoons”.

The park is also an incentive to get all children active again.

“Too many kids are inside on electronic devices and we want them to get outside, get some fresh air and get exercise to help themselves and help their motor skills,” said Treasurer with ‘Growing Awareness’, Mary Helmniak.

The community says this is a way to bring everyone closer together.

“It reinforces a person’s sense of belonging to the community. If they can come out and be with the rest of the folks and just be involved in some way it makes them feel less like outsiders,” said Mike Tierney.

Growing Awareness is holding their first big fundraiser on July 19th, at Fero Vineyard and Winery.

They are hoping to raise $50,000.


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