NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The city of North Little Rock is getting a new playground at Burns Park and it's unlike any other in the town.
For most children the opportunities for play are endless. Parks are everywhere and making friends is easy on the jungle gym. But for those kids with disabilities, a playground can become another hurdle to jump rather than a place for joy.
One Heart Playground is something all of us here at THV11 are really excited about. The space was created for children and parents who may have special needs. It's designed with everyone in mind and inspired by one special little girl.
"Emma will steal your heart, she's 4 years old,” said Terry Hartwick, Director of Parks and Recreation.
Emma Wason was born with a congenital heart defect and Turner Syndrome. She lives most of her life in a wheelchair, so it only made sense to have a playground she could enjoy with all the other children.
Before this project, there was no fully inclusive playground open to the public in the area in North Little Rock.
"I'm very proud of what our city has done, the parks department, and everybody involved,” Hartwick said. “With her parents and a lot of other volunteers, we've turned something that was just a shallow ground with nothing into an all-inclusive park that many people can enjoy."
Hartwick said the new all-inclusive playground costs about a quarter of a million dollars and took about a year to complete, but he said it's worth it. Children of all ages, sizes, and abilities are welcome.
“Everything [part] has a toy to play with where its spinning,” said Hartwick while demonstrating a few of the features.
The playground is designed with special equipment in mind. Children can use their chairs or other devices in and around the new playground. The slide, swings, monkey bars, and other additions are all made larger for easy and comfortable access.
“You know it's not just for the kids. What happens if you're a parent in a wheel chair or have some needs that you have to address," Hartwick asked. "Where did you go, where did you play with them? How are you interacting with your kids."
There’s a heart that is sits in the center of the playground floor drawn by the little girl who inspires everyone she meets.
“And that's why [the heart is] not perfect, but it’s pretty perfect to me. The heart you see on the playground is why we named it One Heart Park,” said Hartwick.
THV11 was proud to donate a Tegna Community Action Grant of $5,000 to this project. A ribbon cutting ceremony for One Heart Park will take place on Tuesday, June 13 at 10 a.m.