Fundraising begins to bring inclusive playground to Clinton Township

By: Alex Szwarc | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published July 28, 2021

 The Arc of Macomb County recently launched a fundraising campaign for a special playground in Clinton Township that will allow for children of all abilities to play.

The Arc of Macomb County recently launched a fundraising campaign for a special playground in Clinton Township that will allow for children of all abilities to play.

Diagram provided by Clinton Township

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — A project is underway to bring an inclusive playground to Clinton Township.

For the dream to become a reality, several hundred thousand dollars will need to be raised.

The Arc of Macomb County recently launched a fundraising campaign for a special playground that will allow for children of all abilities to play.

The 14-member playground committee developed a layout for the playground, chose equipment, and began an ambitious fundraising plan to raise over $850,000.

The Arc of Macomb County is a nonprofit disability advocacy organization, representing those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is a national organization with state and local chapters.

For this project, the Arc is partnering with Clinton Township. The plan is for the playground to be built south of the Clinton Macomb Public Library, on the grounds of the Clinton Township Civic Center.

AnnMarie Ottoy, community relations specialist for The Arc of Macomb County, is the mother of a 21-year-old son with a disability.

“We were looking at different grant opportunities and something we could do in the community,” she said. “I came across a grant and said a playground would be a perfect fit.”

Ottoy is also the committee chair for the Clinton Township Inclusive Playground.

“Our committee has made some strong strides in pursuit of our goals over the last year, despite the pandemic,” Ottoy said.

She believes a playground is the perfect place to plant the seeds of inclusion in the community and embracing all with different abilities.

In regard to playground planning, a committee was created, and there also is a fundraising committee.

Ottoy said the major donor subcommittee will soon meet with community leaders and businesses.   

For the park’s design, equipment was hand-selected by the committee.

“Each piece was carefully considered for accessibility, inclusivity and for the enjoyment of the broadest population in Clinton Township,” Ottoy said.

The playground will include play structures, swings, a quiet area for children overwhelmed by activities, an adaptive zipline and fitness equipment.

Due to the project size, it has been broken into two phases. Phase 1 is set to break ground in the spring.

This phase includes adding the main play structures, swings, a communication board, elevated sandbox, the quiet area and some freestanding equipment. Construction cost for this phase is about $184,000. An additional $144,000 is for equipment.

Ottoy said the port and play surface is the most expensive part of the construction cost.

“That helps with accessibility for people who are in motorized wheelchairs, manual wheelchairs or those with mobility issues,” she said.

Ottoy said there is a three-pronged fundraising approach — grassroots efforts with community events, grants, and major donors.

Come August, the Arc will have the chance to apply for a $50,000 matching grant through GameTime. The committee would have to raise $50,0000 by November.

“We are a community and all support and benefit one another,” she said. “It’s not about a particular group. This playground is not just for kids with disabilities. It’s for the entire community.”

Clinton Township Treasurer Paul Gielegham is a committee member and said the playground is a true community event.

“It’s an initiative we need community support for,” he said. “The township is stepping up in a big way by donating the land, helping with the design and helping with budgeting.”

Gielegham said everyone will enjoy the playground.

“It’s a playground that can accommodate people with disabilities, which is truly what makes it for everybody,” he said.

The first fundraising event happened July 15 with a drive-in movie.

Additional fundraising efforts for the playground include a cornhole and chili cook-off event Sept. 16 at Fern Hill Golf Club and a battle of the bands Nov. 5.

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