Just days after hosting the Kate’s Kause fun fair and benefit dance at Lions Hall on Saturday, Kelly Meissner received a $60,000 cheque from the national Together We Play contest. The money adds to the running total for a universally-accessible playground in Elmira.
Meissner’s daughter Kate was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome two years ago. People with AS typically have little or no verbal skills, possible seizures and sleep disorders, and poor gross and fine motor skills.
She and her husband Jeremy started Kate’s Kause in October 2010 in an effort to raise funds to build a playground that their daughter could use to help her develop like a normal child through play and interaction with other children.
“This was a pleasant surprise and we are now well on our way to accomplishing our goal,” said Meissner before receiving the money at the Woolwich Memorial Centre on Wednesday evening. “We’re just over a year in to fundraising and we’re already at $180,000 and the community has really rallied behind us. We were the only Canadian city to win one of the six grants, which is great for Elmira.”
Kelly crafted a 1,000-word essay on behalf of her organization and requested the funding for a safe playground with sensory components and graduated levels of play, allowing children of all abilities to interact with the playground and each other.
Of their $60,000 prize, $10,000 will be devoted to universally accessible playground equipment from sponsor Landscape Structures and $50,000 will be used towards the design, development, and educational programming assistance from Shane’s Inspiration, a California-based non-profit organization with a goal of making playgrounds accessible to kids with disabilities.
“An inclusive play playground in Elmira will ensure all kids in the community are able to utilize the playground, regardless of age or ability,” said Tiffany Harris, founder and CEO of Shane’s Inspiration.
“When we read Kelly’s essay we were very touched and fell in love with this community. We were so impressed by the support this community had already rallied in such a short amount of time and Elmira fit into our commitment to finding communities that were committed to inclusion for all of their children and we are glad to support this playground.”
On Thursday Shane’s Inspiration held an information session where landscape architect Virginia Hatley listened to ideas from members of the community to incorporate into the playground.
“We are asking the community what they would like to see in the play environment so the park will serve all children of all abilities. This is for everyone to enjoy,” said Harris.
Last weekend’s fun fair where children from across the region could come and play games, enjoy a turn in one of two bouncing castles, have their face painted and enjoy some treats and cakes raised over $6,000 towards the playground to be built on a site adjacent to Lions Hall.