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New Gladeville playground to offer facilities for all children

Staff Reports • Updated Sep 19, 2017 at 11:00 AM

A new playground will soon open in the Gladeville community, built by Raelee’s Legacy, a Wilson County nonprofit organization. 

It will be accessible to all children, incorporating equipment and facilities, which are handicapped-accessible and sensory friendly.

Corey and Heather Parris were inspired to build the Raelee Parris Legacy Playground for the Gladeville community following the death of their 3-year-old son, Raelee Parris, in 2015 from a febrile seizure. In their grief, Corey Parris was inspired through his faith to build a playground in tribute to Raelee’s memory. 

“It was a vision given to my husband from God,” said Heather Parris, referring to the inspiration for building the playground.

The new playground was built with the assistance of donations to Raelee’s Legacy, as well as dozens of volunteers, all of whom contributed their time and talents to realizing Corey and Heather Parris’ dream. Former Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead presented a $1,000 donation from the Whip Crackin’ Rodeo, which will be used to assist with building a fence around the playground. The Permobil Foundation donated the Liberty swing for the park, a device that allows children in a wheelchair or other motorized mobility device to experience the joy of playing on a swing. Ashley Davis, a representative of Permobil Foundation, said the Australian-made swing is the first in Tennessee and one of only several nationwide. 

“A lot of times, a caretaker or parent is not able to get the child out of their chair and into the swing. This way, they can get in, lock the wheels [of the wheelchair or motorized device], drop the ramp and push them in the swing,” said Heather Parris about the swing.

When planning playground’s design, the focus was always to make it accessible to all children, regardless of handicap or special needs. In addition to customary playground equipment for 2-12 year olds, the playground includes a “Cozy Cocoon” chair, which provides an enclosed and safe space for children that may find themselves over-stimulated. 

During the grand opening, families will be able to request access to the Liberty swing. 

“Raelee saw no disabilities, included everyone and loved everyone,” Heather Parris said. “It is for this reason the playground had to be all-encompassing for each individual’s needs and disabilities.”

The Raelee Parris Legacy Playground will have a grand opening celebration Saturday from 2-4 p.m. at the Gladville Community Center at 95 McCrary Road. 

More information and details are available at raeleeeslegacy.org.

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