Equipment for Preston’s Playground arrives in Delaware
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.