Play­ground pro­gresses

Equip­ment for Pre­ston’s Play­ground ar­rives in Delaware

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­

The or­ga­niz­ers be­hind Pre­ston’s Play­ground are one step closer to mak­ing their dream a re­al­ity after the equip­ment for the hand­i­capped- ac­ces­si­ble play­ground ar­rived in Delaware last week.

It’s the lat­est step in a mas­sive, com­mu­nity-wide effort that be­gan more than two years ago and raised $500,000.

Con­struc­tion will be­gin in April and take be­tween two and four weeks, said Nic DeCaire, who helped spear­head the project.

“The com­mu­nity has waited long enough,” DeCaire said. “We have to get this thing built for them.”

Named for Pre­ston Bue­naga, a Wilm­ing­ton teen who has mi­to­chon­drial dis­ease, the play­ground is meant to al­low all chil­dren – re­gard­less of dis­abil­i­ties – to play to­gether in a safe, ac­ces­si­ble space.

The project is the brain­child of Pre­ston’s mother, Deb, who was in­spired by a sim­i­lar play­ground the fam­ily vis­ited while on va­ca­tion in Vir­ginia. She joined forces with DeCaire, with whom she had worked on other phil­an­thropic projects, and they started rais- ing money in the sum­mer of 2015.

The Ne­wark Parks and Recre­ation Depart­ment agreed to ded­i­cate space for the play­ground at the base of the Ne­wark Reser­voir and take care of the on­go­ing main­te­nance. The 6,000-square-foot play­ground will fea­ture a rub­ber play sur­face and equip­ment that al­lows chil­dren in wheel­chairs to play side-by­side with their non-dis­abled peers. Three ac­ces­si­ble en­trances will ac­com­mo­date kids with wheel­chairs, braces or other mo­bil­ity is­sues.

Deb Bue­naga stressed that the play­ground is not just in­tended for kids with dis­abil­i­ties but will be de­signed to ac­com­mo­date and ap­peal to all chil­dren.

“It’s all about them be­ing able to play to­gether,” she said pre­vi­ously.

Both she and DeCaire ex­pect the park to draw vis­i­tors from sur­round­ing ar­eas.

The ini­tial fundrais­ing goal was $250,000 but dou­bled over time as plans for the play­ground ex­panded. After con­tri­bu­tions from nu­mer­ous peo­ple and cor­po­ra­tions and dozens of fundrais­ing events, DeCaire and Bue­naga hit their goal late last year.

They are still rais­ing money to build hand­i­cappedac­ces­si­ble bath­rooms at the site of the play­ground, but DeCaire said con­struc­tion of the play­ground will progress re­gard­less of the sta­tus of the bath­rooms.

Last week, em­ploy­ees from Hop­kins & Sons Mov- ing and Stor­age made two trips to Ge­or­gia to pick up the play­ground equip­ment from the man­u­fac­turer. The New Cas­tle-based com­pany will store the equip­ment in its ware­house un­til April.

The com­pany do­nated its ser­vices, sav­ing the play­ground fund more than $17,000 in ship­ping fees, DeCaire said.

Mean­while, sev­eral lo­cal con­trac­tors have agreed to help in­stall the play­ground, and some donors will be in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in com­mu­nity work days. Some­time in late April or early May, the play­ground will open.

DeCaire said it hasn’t quite sunk in that the play­ground is fi­nally about to come to fruition.

“I haven’t phys­i­cally touched it yet, so for me it’s not real yet,” he said. “But it will be a great feel­ing once it’s built.”


An artist’s ren­der­ing shows what Pre­ston’s Play­ground will look like. Wheel­chair ramps and other fea­tures will al­low kids with and with­out dis­abil­i­ties to play to­gether.

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