The Knights of Columbus have long had a particular passion for providing assistance to persons with disabilities. So when plans were drawn up to build an outdoor recreational center that would accommodate persons with disabilities in Rock Hill, S.C., the local council stepped up to contribute to the cause.
St. Anne-Oratory Council 6756 in Rock Hill has donated $2,800 to help build Miracle Park, a project of York County Disabilities Foundation. Miracle Park, which organizers call the first of its kind in the country, will include multipurpose fields and a large playground with amenities designed for children and adults with disabilities.
The council presented an initial gift of $600 raised through a pancake breakfast and Hispanic luncheon in June. They gave another $2,200 in mid-October as part of their Recognition Night, during which they disbursed funds to various local charities collected through their Hope Foundation.
“Council members have actively supported the local Special Olympics, and we became aware of this project through local newspaper articles,” said Ray Howard, Grand Knight of Council 6756. “We felt that even though this wasn’t directly serving Special Olympics, it supported those with disabilities.”
Once completed, however, the 15-acre Miracle Park might well wind up the ideal site for hosting Special Olympics events, he added.
“The plan is to host Special Olympics events as often as we are asked,” Howard said. “We know that our park will be a more accessible location than the current place where most events are held. Since we are working with the city and their therapeutic programming department, we are confident that they will begin scheduling events with us as soon as the park is open.”
The park, which is being completed in phases, will feature two multi-purpose fields, a 20,000-square-foot playground designed for people with different abilities, and retail space. Work is expected to be finished next spring.
Planners say that what makes Miracle Park unique is its inclusiveness. For example, the baseball field will feature a rubberized turf to accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility devices. At the same time, the park will serve people of all abilities for recreational interaction.
There will also be a walking track with rehabilitative equipment for older people, a sensory area, a splash pad, natural areas, a therapeutic fishing pond, picnic facilities, and concessions. The restrooms will include adult changing tables, and the retail space will provide employment for persons with intellectual disabilities.
“There’s not going to be a place anywhere like this,” said Alice Davis a member of the York County Disabilities Foundation. “We want to build a place with no barriers for people of all abilities to enjoy.”
Howard echoed those sentiments.
“This park isn’t just designed for people with special needs. While one major goal is to remove barriers for those with special needs, the other major goal is to be the most inclusive community space around,” he explained. “We want to engage people of all abilities and ages by having a facility that encourages all people playing and enjoying recreation together.”
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