Looking Ahead to 2022

By Margie Wilhelmi, Play for All Playground & Garden Board Member

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As 2021 comes to a close, we reflect on our new partners and friends that we’ve connected with this year, along with the amazing support we received from our community.

We hosted four summer play days for more than 1,000 participants and distributed activity bags featuring themed activity sheets and fidgets to participating children.

We are also excited to share that more playground improvements are on the horizon. We have begun preparing for the installation of a Gravity Rail, a new playground feature to be added to the Treehouse, and a Net Climber, a first-of-its-kind attraction in the playground industry to feature a wheelchair transfer platform. We look forward to introducing these two fun, thrilling additions in early 2022.

Our foundation board continues to meet regularly to plan and set goals. First and foremost, we are embarking on our next major challenge, raising funds for a playground designed for children ages 5 to 12 years old. We hope you can join us in reaching our year-end fundraising goal of $20,000 which will get us to having fully met our $55,000 matching grant challenge! Like the already established playground space for children ages 2 to 5, this new playground will carry an equestrian theme. We hope to add this to the playground in the next few years.

Donate now at playforall.kindful.com.

Please enjoy the rest of this newsletter and be sure to stay connected with us at facebook.com/SensoryGardenPlayground.

Mission

The Play For All Playground & Garden Foundation’s mission is to create barrier-free and universally accessible outdoor play spaces and gardens in DuPage County. Through the cognitive, social, and physical values of play, the Foundation will promote a spirit of inclusion and enhance quality of life, as well as support involvement in recreation and wellness activities for all people and abilities.

Thank You, 100+ Women Who Care DuPage Chapter

The 100+ Women Who Care DuPage Chapter awarded its August donations to the Play for All Playground & Garden Foundation in support of the Sensory Garden Playground, 5 to 12-year-old playground project. Additionally, the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation added a $5,000 matching donation, making the total gifts over $16,000 to the Play for All Playground & Garden Foundation. The check was presented onsite at the playground on Monday, August 30.

100+ Women Who Care DuPage is a group of local women who support local charities and who care about the people who live here. Their mission is to reach out and make a difference in our own communities through collective giving. Their membership is about 120 women but they are always welcoming new members and others who are interested in contributing in this simple yet impactful way. Each woman contributes $100 four times a year, generating more than $40,000 annually to help local charities, defined as those located in DuPage County.

To learn more about 100+ Women Who Care DuPage, visit 100wwc.weebly.com.

Pictured from left to right:

Margie Wilhelmi (Play for All Playground & Garden Foundation Board), Jill Jakubowski (100+ Women), Beth Stremel (100+ Women), Marilyn McCawley (100+ Women ), Lorrie Brand (100+ Women), Michael Benard (Play for All Playground & Garden Foundation President), and Sally Wiarda (100+ Women).

Coming Soon!

Gravity Rail

Featuring an accessible design that allows for a wheelchair transfer area on the current treehouse, the gravity rail offers a rare opportunity for movement that is not self-propelled. This project was made possible with the financial support of the DuPage Foundation and an anonymous donor.

Net Climber
This exciting new play piece offers the industry’s first net climber with a transfer platform, an aid used to allow for the easy transfer to and from the playground equipment to a wheelchair, that is attached to an accessible route leading to a six-foot slide. As a result, children of all abilities can experience a wider range of play adventures and physical, social-emotional, and cognitive skill development. Thank you to the JCS Arts, Health and Education Fund at the DuPage Foundation and First Trust.

Thank You, Sandy Gbur

For your 10 years of service to the Play For All Playground & Garden Foundation.

From Sandy Gbur:

Play is critical to the development of all kids. The Sensory Garden Playground project has been a joy to work with for the past 10 years. The idea that we can come together as a community and raise funds for each phase is, for me, the definition of inspiration.

As the former Executive Director of the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association, I am so appreciative of the opportunity to provide presentations to local service clubs and donors so that they could be part of this amazing project. The idea that we can build a play space focused on children with special needs and schedule Play Days that will bring children with and without disabilities together is a great way to teach the importance of inclusion at such an early age.

Thanks to Will Grosch of Community Bank, we formed the Play for All Playground & Garden Foundation which allowed us to form a 501(c)(3) and accept donations that were earmarked for a particular phase. The Wheaton Park District staff have been so committed to this project and a joy to work with, from finding the site to build this magical space, to holding fundraisers, to ordering the equipment and installing it. Mike Benard’s leadership of the foundation has contributed to our success. Our first large grant from Shane’s Inspiration provided us with the design for the playground that supported the rich history of the Danada area. It is named for Dan and Ada Rice who owned Lucky Debonair, a thoroughbred racehorse that won the 1965 Kentucky Derby.

Perhaps it took a worldwide pandemic for us to understand the real value of connection, playing outdoors and de-stressing. Seventeen percent of kids ages 6 to 12 experience mental health issues. As parents, we must move away from screens and social media and go out and enjoy life. We must set the example for our children! Our children’s well-being has to be our priority and there is nothing better than unscheduled free play.

Each phase of the sensory garden project is built in the beautiful forest preserve surrounded by nature. All donations, no matter how small, will help us to build the 5- to 12-year-old play area which is now our focus. Perhaps you have children or grandchildren who could enjoy this play area at 2751 Navistar Drive in Lisle.

It takes all of us to build community! My thanks to all of the private foundations, anonymous donors and all those who have taken the time to support our efforts. You are all appreciated.

Summer Play Days Were a Blast!

Thank you to all of the families who joined us this year at the Play Days. Each play day focused on a theme that included imagination play, construction, oceans, and insects. Activity bags were handed out to the first 50 children. We’re looking forward to bringing back our interactive and play stations in 2022 that will include activities like face painting, tie-dye and much more.

Double Your Donation!

Help build a 5 to 12-year-old playground

5 to 12-year-old playground renderingHelp us meet the $55,000 matching grant fundraising challenge. All fall and winter donations will be doubled – and will help build the 5 to 12-year-old playground twice as fast!

For many families, parks like the Sensory Garden Playground have played a vital role in helping to maintain both physical and emotional well-being during COVID-19. Parks and playgrounds have allowed friends and extended family members to find ways to come together in a safe, socially-distanced manner and stay physically active amid the pandemic.

COVID-19 not only brought with it significant increases in the number of playground visitors and visits, but it also had a significant but negative impact on fundraising efforts, resulting in delays in construction timelines for new projects.

We need your help to build the new 5 to 12-year-old playground that will feature accessible play elements like climbers, slides, a timed horse race track and more!

This fall, we are asking for your financial support to help with the construction of the 5 to 12-year-old playground.

Will you make a tax-deductible donation today to the Sensory Garden Playground project at playforall.kindful.com?

Thank you in advance for your donation and for helping to make “play for all” possible.

Without boundaries. Without limits. Play for all.