The McKinney Community Development Corp. donated $200,000 in June to the Rotary Clubs of McKinney for an all-abilities playground, which is slated to cost $560,000.
The donation brings the city's Rotary Clubs closer to their goal and as of July 7, the clubs have raised more than 60 percent of the funds needed to break ground on the playground proposed for Phase II of Bonnie Wenk Park.
“We must have the funding by the time the bids are returned and chosen, [which should be] around December of this year,” said Juli Smith, co-chair of the all-abilities playground. “Construction should begin shortly after that time, [but] the timeline is solely in the hands of the city of McKinney as the playground is part of phase II of Bonnie Wenk Park.”
While the McKinney Rotary clubs continue to raise funds, there are volunteer opportunities to help relieve some of the stress off of the clubs, including a class about meat and meat preparation donated by Local Yocal Farm to Market and held July 8.
"There are always opportunities to donate and we are trying to connect with the community to spread the word and make everyone aware,” Smith said. “The goal is to have 90 percent of all donations go directly to the playground. We are definitely looking for a large corporate sponsor, and naming rights for the playground is a possibility.”
Nearly 10 percent of McKinney ISD’s student population consists of children who have special needs, with the closest all-abilities playground in Frisco. Many families make the drive to Hope Park to allow their children outdoor time in a safe environment.
“This is the biggest project the McKinney Rotary Clubs have ever done and we are hoping the community and businesses at large will step up and help us close out this fundraiser before the holidays."
– Juli Smith, co-chair of the all-abilities playground
“The focus is on accessibility to all the equipment for children who have special needs, which has a large playability factor for all children,” Smith said. “We would like a place where families who may have one child with special needs, be able to play with a sibling who has no special needs. We want to create a play area in which a child with special needs has choices rather than one piece of equipment to play on.”
The project has expanded exponentially and is now something slightly different than what Smith had originally envisioned.
“This playground project began as a Sunrise club project but we realized it was too big for our club, and Rotary represents 'Service Above Self,' so it made perfect sense to partner with the club that meets downtown,” Smith said. “I personally spoke with many parents who have children with special needs and it soon became evident [that] they needed a place to take their children which was just a 'fun' outing."
With $360,550 in donated funds, the all-abilities playground has quickly grown into the largest joint project done by the McKinney Rotary clubs, with the hope that the park will help raise awareness for the large population of residents with special needs.
“I would like this community to become more inclusive to those living here who might need a little hand up,” Smith said. “This is the biggest project the McKinney Rotary Clubs have ever done and we are hoping the community and businesses at large will step up and help us close out this fundraiser before the holidays. This playground is a not a dream, though; it is a need for this community, which is begging to become a reality.”
The McKinney Sunrise Rotary Club is a 501(c)(3) and have plans to continue their service through local scholarships and committing to new projects as needed after the park is completed.