Many people would see Allie jumping around on a playground and not think twice, but Allie’s parents, Wally and Renee Blain, don’t take the experience for granted.
Allie has idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura or ITP, a condition in which the blood doesn’t clot at the levels it should. If Allie falls from playground equipment, she could bleed to death, so she can’t play on typical playgrounds.
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But the City of Temple Terrace is giving Allie and other children with special needs more options. Last year, it opened the first “all-inclusive” playground adjacent to Lightfoot Recreation Center. On Thursday, it dedicated the second such playground at Riverhills Park.
“We’re just thankful to be here to dedicate a playground where all children can play,” said Wally Blain during opening comments.
The city has been working since January to transform the 17-year-old playground into an area that features special swing seats, ADA compliant ground-level features, musical instruments, a poured-in-place rubber safety surface and other amenities that can be enjoyed by all kids of Temple Terrace, including students from Riverhills Elementary School, which is adjacent to the playground.
“I can’t say enough for the hard work that Renee and Wally have done,” said Mayor Joe Affronti during the dedication.
The Blains created Clouds of Hope, an organization dedicated to helping children with life-altering illnesses, in 2008. Since then, they’ve been working with the city to redesign area playgrounds to meet the needs of all children. The city was open to the idea and already looking into retrofitting some of its playgrounds. The playground at Riverside Park also has all-inclusive equipment.
“It was a long process but so worth it,” Renee Blain said. “To say collaborative is the only way to describe it.”
Leisure Services director James Chambers said the project is a wonderful example of a public partnership. Temple Terrace, Hillsborough County, the Hillsborough County School District and Clouds of Hope teamed up to pay the $160,000 bill.
Although the dedication ceremony took place Thursday, the new playground has been open to families for weeks.
Renee Blain said her family, including older daughter Abbie, 11, went to the park about three weeks ago. She said they saw other families enjoying the playground, and even parents were playing on the new equipment.
“The only way I can describe it is a dream come true,” Renee Blain said.
“It’s not just for children with disabilities,” she added. “It’s a playground for all children.”
For more information about Clouds of Hope, email email@example.com.