Friends of Franklin Parks launching fundraising for all-inclusive playground

Fundraising by Friends of Franklin Parks for a new all-inclusive playground at the Southeast Municipal Complex in Franklin is starting this month. (Rendering courtesy Friends of Franklin Parks)
Fundraising by Friends of Franklin Parks for a new all-inclusive playground at the Southeast Municipal Complex in Franklin is starting this month. (Rendering courtesy Friends of Franklin Parks)

Fundraising by Friends of Franklin Parks for a new all-inclusive playground at the Southeast Municipal Complex in Franklin is starting this month. (Rendering courtesy Friends of Franklin Parks)

Nonprofit Friends of Franklin Parks is spearheading an effort to get the community to pitch in to build a new, inclusive playground at the future Southeast Municipal Complex between Carothers Parkway and I-65.

The group has set a goal of raising $1.5 million toward the $3 million cost of the playground, which will be designed for children of all abilities. The name of the 3-acre park was approved last year by the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen to be Ellie G’s Dreamworld in memory of Ellie Grace Castro, the granddaughter of Franklin residents Samantha and Brandon Castro and Franklin Alderperson Brandy Blanton. Castro died in 2019 from the rare genetic disorder related to dwarfism called rhizomelic chrondrodyplacia punctate. She died at the age of 4 in 2019.

Fundraising for the project will officially begin Jan. 18, and information about the effort can be found here.

“This has been visioned for years and years and years,” said Torrey Barnhill, the executive director of Friends of Franklin Parks. “Franklin Tomorrow has done vision trips to inclusive playgrounds and rallied the community to keep this in the forefront of everybody’s mind.”

The proposed 3-acre park would be five or six times larger than the existing Tinkerbell Playground at Pinkerton Park, the city’s most heavily used passive park.


Sponsorship opportunities range from $500,000 down to $1,000, but all donations are needed, Barnhill said.

“This project is for everybody to be a part of,” she said. “We want the whole community engaged.”
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