April 26, 2012

Ribbon cutting opens boundless playground to all

Story and photo by Natalie Lakosil
Staff Writer
From left, Dennis Maruska, director of the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Directorate, Audrey Peterson-Hosto, Exceptional Family Member program manager and Col. Timothy Faulkner, garrison commander, Fort Huachuca, cut the ribbon at the new boundless playground on Fort Huachuca, April 18.

Most children and adults walk and play without effort, and take these abilities for granted. However, some members of the Fort Huachuca community have limited mobility which hampers their being able to move around and play easily. It also limits their ability to enjoy a traditional playground.

However, a new playground on Fort Huachuca designed for both them and for Wounded Warriors gives those with limited abilities a special place to play in — one especially designed for people whose ability is limited.

“I am so happy to be here today, and that we have this playground here for our exceptional families. It is the only boundless playground in Cochise County,” said Audrey Peterson-Hosto, Exceptional Family Member program manager at Fort Huachuca Army Community Service, right before she cut the ribbon for the playground’s grand opening.

The playground opened officially last week, but families have been able to enjoy it for a few weeks prior.

“I think this type of playground is important because it gives our children a venue to come out and just feel normal and have the ability to play and be like any other kid. This playground exemplifies the support we have for our families,” said Col. Timothy Faulkner, garrison commander, Fort Huachuca.

An article in the November 10, 2011 Scout said, ”Boundless Playgrounds, a national nonprofit organization based in New Haven, Conn., is dedicated to helping communities create playgrounds where children can develop essential skills for life as they learn together through play. These playgrounds are designed with all children in mind, regardless of their disabilities.”

“We’ve got such a large population of exceptional families here, so this really provides them the same opportunity that our other children have. We really need something like this to accommodate them,” said Dennis Maruska, director, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Directorate, at the opening. “It is for exceptional children. It gives them easy wheelchair access, and it is functionally designed so they can use it. I have stopped by since we opened it, and I have seen families out here playing and thoroughly enjoying it.”

The November article in the Scout said, “The equipment for boundless playgrounds is carefully selected and configured to facilitate stimulating rigorous and challenging play and feature strategic placement of rubber matting to allow for ease of movement within the environment for children with different abilities,” in the description of the boundless playground.

“All children have the right to play. Sometimes a standard playground isn’t accessible, especially for children in wheelchairs, so that’s the whole idea behind us wanting to get this. We wanted to ensure that all children on the installation had a playground to play on,” Peterson-Hosto said.

“We also had the Warrior Transition Unit in mind as well when we put in the request for the playground. It is not only for our exceptional family members but for the Warriors in Transition so they are able to play with their own children,” she added.

“I’m not sure if everybody knows that it’s here or what it is for. We are hoping with the opening of the playground that more people will start to unitilize it,” Peterson-Hosto said.

Fort Huachuca’s boundless playground is located by the Warrior Transition Unit and Murr Community Center, and all families are welcome to use it.

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