GREENSBURG - A new inclusive play area planned for Rebekah Park on the city's east side is closer to becoming a reality thanks to a generous donation from the local DASI Kids (Disabilities & Autism Services of Indiana) office.
An inclusive park is a playground equipped so that children of all abilities can play together, with developmentally appropriate equipment for children of all abilities. The park eliminates barriers between children both physically and socially, providing a sensory rich experience for all.
April was National Autism Awareness Month, and to mark the occasion the local DASI Kids office announced a fundraising campaign dubbed Walk for a Cause.
DASI Kids pledged to walk 5 million steps throughout the month of April and challenged community partners to help sponsor the effort. For each million steps, DASI Kids pledged to donate $1,000 to help finance construction of the inclusion park with a goal of donating a total of $5,000.
It was announced Tuesday that goal was more than exceeded, with participants charting 23,860,258 steps.
With the DASI Kids 5 million steps pledge of $5,000 and proceeds from local sponsors, the organization was able to deliver a $7,000 check to Decatur County Community Foundation Executive Director Tami Wenning.
The sponsors involved included platinum sponsors Ruoff Mortgage, State Farm-Emily Nowlin, Edward Jones-Robert Plue, Comer Buildings, Fayette Web Design, and Don Meyer Ford.
A "pass through" account has been established at the DCCF, meaning all funds donated to it will be available to help pay for the inclusion park once construction is underway.
The idea of the inclusion park came from Greensburg Chief of Police Brendan Bridges, who was on hand for Tuesday's check presentation.
He noted the park project already received a grant from the local Tourism office, but the DASI contribution was the first donation to the cause otherwise.
"We're very excited. It's going to be a great thing!" Bridges said, adding that he hopes construction of the new play area will be completed no later than 2023.
DASI Kids Office Manager Kyra Meyer said she and everyone involved with the fundraising effort were proud to support the inclusive park.
DASI Kids founder Libby Caswell said she was surprised by the success of the fundraising campaign.
"I'm super pleased," she said. "We couldn't have done it without the community. ... It was awesome to get the whole community involved, so we're excited and happy with the turnout."
Caswell went on to say she looks forward to the inclusion park and what it will provide area residents.
"It should be a really good benefit to our community, our special needs families and all of our families, to bring everyone together," she said.
Wenning encouraged Decatur County individuals, organizations and businesses to get behind this project and make a donation to the fund set up at the DCCF.
Call the DCCF at (812) 662-6364; stop by the office at 101 E. Main Street, Greensburg; or visit https://www.dccfound.org/ for more information about this effort as well as the other funds administered by the DCCF.